DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — Staff at the Dubuque Regional Airport were aware of the national pilot shortage. However, American Airlines’ announcement that they are pulling service in September came as a surprise to Dubuque’s airport.
The airline announced on Tuesday it will be pulling out of Dubuque airport along with several others across the country in September. They say it’s due to the national shortage in pilots preventing them from continuing service.
American Airlines currently has two flights a day from Chicago to Dubuque’s airport. It’s the only legacy airline currently running out of Dubuque. According to Todd Dalsing, the airport’s manager, they still have over $700,000 in leftover grant money they can use to look into other airlines.
“We have been and always will continue to be in conversations with both legacy carriers like your American, delta, United, etcetera,” Dalsing said. “And even low cost carriers to see what other options Dubuque can come up with in the future.”
However, Dalsing says the airline shortage is making it hard for everyone.
“Your legacy carriers as I mentioned, American, United, etcetera. And it affects your lower cost carriers as well,” Dalsing said. “So it’s very difficult right now to add air service. And industry experts say this pilot shortage could last three, almost for sure three years, if not more.”
Dalsing says despite the loss of the airline service there will be no change to airport employees. While it is a loss, the vast majority of the airports revenue comes from general aviation programs, like private charters and the flight school.
Tourism experts in the area echoed much of the same sentiment. According to Keith Rahe, Travel Dubuque’s president and CEO, the loss of the airline service will have an effect on tourism in the area, especially for special events like the Field of Dreams MLB game in August. However Dubuque has mainly been a place travelers drive to.
“You know we’re lucky in regards to where we’re located,” Rahe said. “The proximity to major markets, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, you know Minneapolis, Kansas City all within pretty easy driving distance. We really are from a tourism perspective we’re very much a driving destination.”
Rahe says there will be little shift in how Dubuque markets itself as a destination.
American Airlines will be ending service September 7 this fall.