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An Iowa county is losing its only regular air service due to the pilot shortage, forcing residents to drive 3 hours to the next nearest airport

American Airlines’ decision to remove its air service could impact the local economy, says an Iowa business leader.

American Airlines

  • An Iowa county business leader fears the local economy will suffer when it loses air service in September.
  • American Airlines had previously announced back in June that it would withdraw service in Dubuque.
  • The CEO of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce told CNN how important air service was to the area.

A business leader in Dubuque, Iowa, has expressed fears for the county’s future as it prepares to lose its only regular air service in September.

Molly Grove, CEO of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, told CNN: “It’s certainly disappointing. Obviously, air service is important to the business community. They depend on it to bring in talent, or having talent fly out to other businesses. The time that is saved by not having to drive somewhere, you can’t beat it.”

Grove was also concerned about the effect that the lack of air travel would have on the local economy.

American Airlines is the only commercial carrier that flies to and from Dubuque Regional Airport in Iowa, according to the airport’s website. But the airline announced in late June that it was stopping its service from four small airports — Dubuque and three other small airports: Toledo, Islip and Ithica, starting in early September.

American Airlines has cited pilot shortages as the reason for halting its service to the four airports, according to a statement seen by CNBC.

For the majority of Dubuque county’s 100,000 residents, this means they face a three-hour drive to the next nearest airport in Chicago, per CNN.

Representatives for American Airlines and Dubuque Regional Airport did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

Around the world, the aviation industry has been battling a tight post-pandemic labor market, with a particular squeeze on recruiting pilots, Insider reported.

This lack of pilots coupled with recent strike action over pay even caused Scandinavian airline, SAS, to file for bankruptcy in the US last week.

“Fewer pilots are entering the profession than are leaving it,” Faye Malarkey Black, CEO of the Regional Airline Association, told CNN. “The problem is there are huge barriers of entry and [it’s] limited to those wealthy enough to pay for the training.”

The disruptions facing regional airports are just the latest development in a global wave of travel disruptions. 

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