In a recent interview with the Dayton Daily News, Gil Turner, Dayton’s aviation director, said he remains optimistic there is a future for smaller, regional airports if the Federal Aviation Administration can update rules on flight training hours and perhaps ease mandatory retirement ages — pilots must retire at 65 — and VISA conditions for immigrant pilots.
“There are a few solutions that could be implemented,” Turner said. “There are solutions out there.”
“The demand (for new flights) is there,” he added. “We’re seeing about a 80% load factor on most of the aircraft that are in and out of Dayton.”
The Regional Airline Association, which advocates for smaller airlines, found that total scheduled departures from regional airports declined 22% from 2019 to 2021.
Major airlines serve just about 34% of the nation’s commercially served airports, according to the RAA. Everyone else relies on regional carriers.
“Communities have a right-now problem where they are losing air service at crisis levels,” Faye Malarkey Black, CEO of the RAA, recently told the Dayton Daily News.
The problems are many: Pilots at regional airlines often move on to larger carriers, which pay better, and when regional airlines leave airports, the bigger airlines are less likely to serve those airports.