Airline ends service to Hawaii for 2022 due to pilot shortage

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HONOLULU (KHON) — A shortage of pilots in the U.S. has led to some airlines cutting schedules. Pilots who are left to pick up the slack have also been complaining of fatigue, citing safety concerns.

One airline is even cutting service to Hawaii for the rest of the year.

Sun Country Airlines customers received this message:

“Due to the current pilot shortage impacting all U.S. airlines, Sun Country has regrettably elected to suspend service to Honolulu, HI (HNL) for the 2022 travel season. Passengers who were booked on impacted flights will automatically be refunded to their original form of payment for their reservation.”

Passengers don’t need to take any action to get their refund. However, the airline said it is unable to provide any additional reimbursement beyond a refund for rental cars, hotels, tickets purchased on other carriers and other expenses.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this temporary suspension of Honolulu service causes to our customers,” the message continued. “We are hopeful for a return of Honolulu service for the 2023 travel season.”

A spokesperson for Sun Country Airlines gave KHON2 this statement:

“Anticipating that we will continue to be operationally constrained by workforce shortages, including crew, Sun Country is adjusting our summer flying schedule to align better with staffing and aircraft availability. We are eliminating service to Fairbanks and Honolulu – two long-haul flights that will also save on high fuel costs. We apologize to our guests for the change.”

Wendy Burt, Sun Country Airlines spokesperson

Hawaiian Airlines canceled dozens of flights ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, and rescheduling has not been easy. Many of the cancelations are due to pilot training and simulator certification issues.

Last week, union leaders said Southwest Airlines pilots are suffering through an epidemic of fatigue due to poor scheduling practices, which have now escalated out of control.

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) and its Board of Directors sent an open letter to Southwest CEO Robert Jordan and other executives detailing how problems started last summer when the number of travelers returned to normal flying capacity. Along with the increase in flights came the rise in pilot reports to both the Aviation Safety Action Program and Southwest Airlines’ Fatigue Safety Advisory Group.

“Fatigue numbers have been climbing exponentially since last summer with no meaningful attempts by management to mitigate them,” the letter said. “April is already setting fatigue records. Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’ number-one safety threat.”

Last week, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 14,000 American Airlines pilots, filed a lawsuit to stop its volunteering program that encourages pilots to participate in simulator training sessions on their days off.

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