GREAT FALLS — Delta is rebuilding its flight schedule across the nation. The airline is raising its capacity to 80% later this year. It’s been operating at 71% of its regular capacity.
Here in Montana, it’s a bit of a different story right now. Recently, Delta cut its direct flight from Great Falls to Minneapolis.
Great Falls International Airport director John Faulkner said airlines are cutting routes due to a lack of pilots.
"At the onset of Covid, the airlines offered buyouts to a lot of the senior pilots. As those pilots retired out, it reduced the pilot pool. This summer as Delta began rebuilding their routes, they hired a lot of the regional pilots that are lower on the pay scale. As those guys have transitioned into main line flying, there's a dramatic shortage in regional air line pilots,” said Faulkner.
A spokesperson for Delta said the cut is a “seasonal suspension” and the airline expects to resume the flight option in the Spring using SkyWest as the Delta connection carrier.
“As always, Delta continues to monitor and adjust our flight schedules and service levels based on customer demand,” said Drake Castañeda, Delta Air Lines Corporate Communications.
Delta also cut the Minneapolis flight from the Helena Regional Airport and the Missoula County International Airport.
Montana This Morning anchor Shannon Newth talked with Faulkner in depth about how the flight cut impacts the airport, what it will take to grow the airport, his tips for getting the best ticket price, and more.