Major U.S. Airlines Turn to Buses as They Look to Creative Solutions to Pilot Shortage

Pax booking travel with major U.S. airlines are finding themselves on buses as a dire shortage of pilots sweeps the industry.

Bloomberg reports that top airlines - including United and American Airlines - have introduced bus service on some of their routes.

Both carriers have signed contracts with “bus-as-flight company Landline,” which takes pax and their luggage on shorter, domestic routes.

United, for example, uses Landline to transport pax from Denver to smaller, regional cities. So a customer could potentially fly to a hub town like Denver, then be transferred to complete their journey by land.

American Airlines begins bus service on the East Coast on 03JUN, with pax being transported via American Airlines-branded coaches between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Landline touted the service on Twitter:

“Seamless connections between American's Philadelphia hub to Lehigh Valley Airport (ABE), and Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), beginning June 3.”

American Airlines denies that bus service is replacing its air routes, and even that the altered service is due to aircrew shortages, telling Business Insider that "Landline-operated routes are incremental to our schedule – they're not replacing any flying and aren't related to pilot staffing."

However, there’s a multitude of evidence that U.S. airlines are going to increasingly desperate... er 'creative' measures to solve a mounting pilot shortage problem.

Business Insider reports that “salary hikes and higher bonuses are being used to attract and retain talent.”

And that’s just a start.

United recently dropped 29 cities from its schedule - indefinitely -  because partner carrier SkyWest Airlines didn't have enough pilots to service the routes.

Delta Air Lines is reportedly lowering its requirements for new pilot hires, eliminating the need for them to have a four-year college degree.

And American startup airline Breeze Airways is going Down Under for flight deck talent, hiring pilots from Australia under the U.S.’ E-3 visa program for skilled workers to fill its need for nearly 300 pilots.

No one said travel recovery would be easy. But post-pandemic labour shortages are re-shaping the industry in ways we have yet to imagine.

Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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