COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — American Airlines is cutting flights to several other U.S. cities, including Columbus Airport (CSG) this spring.

The major airline said the changes are in response to the soft demand and regional pilot shortage.

This is the second time American Airlines ended their services at the Columbus Airport. The airline left Columbus is 2012 before returning nearly 10 years later.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the air travel demand was extremely low. This led to low revenue for the industry, reduced payrolls, and pilots who either retired or left the industry altogether. 

With air travel bouncing back, airlines are struggling to hire enough pilots to meet that demand. Regional airlines and smaller airports have been impacted the hardest since the shortage. 

Columbus Airport Director, Amber Clarke, says not only does this change affect the airport, but the city as well.

“By losing this airline, it’s actually a loss of $3 million annually in economic impact for Columbus,” said Clarke. “It also is a loss for our community because it provides less connections for our military travelers, our corporate travelers and our visitors. But for here at the airport, we’re looking at a loss annually, close to about $1 million.”

American’s regional carrier, American Eagle, will continue servicing daily routes to their two hub airports – two flights between Columbus and Charlotte and one flight between Columbus and Dallas.

Columbus Airport officials believe the flights routed to Dallas may end earlier in February but the last American Airlines flight will be on April 3.

Although American Airlines is ending their services locally, Columbus Airport still offers three daily flights through Delta Air Lines. Clarke said people in the community can help the airport thrive if they travel locally.

“We encourage our community to continue to use CSG when they travel because by increasing the passenger loads here will encourage other airlines to either come back or additional airlines to come here to Columbus,” said Clarke.