QC airport expects increased travel over spring break, pilot shortage could impact flights

MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) — More passengers are expected to fill terminals at Quad Cities International Airport during spring break than during the same holidays in 2021 and 2020.

“We expect to at least exceed the 2021 numbers for sure. All industry projections are looking at 2022 outnumbering 2019 and 2021 with 2020 all the way down,” said Ashleigh Davis, public relations and marketing manager at Quad Cities International Airport.

According to Davis, the COVID-19 omicron and delta waves have slowed the resumption of air travel, but expect demand to increase as cases decline.

“We really think there is a lot of pent-up demand. A lot of canceled plans now remain on the books, so we’re expecting a pretty decent year,” Davis said.

Travel projections call for passenger numbers to stabilize in 2023 or exceed 2019 levels, but a shortage of pilots and crew could slow your travel plans. A report by Oliver Wyman consulting estimates that North America will be short of more than twelve thousand pilots by 2023.

“Even though airports are getting busier just in terms of people wanting to travel, airlines are still grappling with their own crew and pilot shortages and trying to manage their own resources and decide how best to bring everything back to 2019 levels,” Davis said, “We’re lucky we haven’t seen a lot of shortages at our airport. We managed to stay pretty full. Something to keep in mind is that whatever the impact of a bigger airport is, it’s going to ripple through smaller airports like ours, so we might be functioning just fine, but if something happens at Chicago or Dallas, you might start to see the impact filter down to us.

The federal mask requirement inside federal airports and aircraft is set to expire after March 18. The mandate has been extended three times since it came into effect. The TSA said it would consult with the CDC before making a decision on whether to extend the warrant.

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