Want to Fly This Summer? Good Luck Traveling to a Small City

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With travelers buying plane tickets in droves, airlines are preparing for a surge and planning to provide seating for 11% more passengers this summer than last. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you had to travel through some small cities.

A growing number of small airports have fewer flights, and some are at risk of losing service altogether. The regional airlines that serve them can’t hold on to pilots, who are getting snapped up by bigger carriers.

Thirty airports in the continental U.S. have lost at least half the departures they had in 2019, according to an analysis of schedule data by Airline Data Inc.

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In March, SkyWest Airlines Inc. notified airport officials in 29 cities that it intended to end service, citing the pilot staffing imbalance. In nearly all of those cities, SkyWest SKYW 1.61%▲ is the only commercial airline flying. For travelers near the Sioux City, Iowa, and Jamestown, N.D., airports, both of which SkyWest is attempting to leave, the next closest commercial airports are at least 80 miles away.


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