A severe pilot shortage has led to diminished or lost air service at 76% of US airports, according to an analysis of OAG data by the Regional Airline Association, which says it represents the airlines that provide 43% of scheduled passenger flights domestically and offer the only source of scheduled air service to most of the country.

Faye Malarkey Black, CEO of the association, said there are now more than 500 regional aircraft parked without pilots to fly them and an associated air service retraction in 324 communities. She said 14 airports have lost all scheduled commercial air service — a number that is still rising.

The ongoing pilot shortages previously led to contraction of the regional airline industry over a decade, according to the RAA, with a corresponding reduction in air service to small and medium-sized communities. The total number of airports with service declined by 5% between 2009 and today.

Those airports retaining air service saw diminished frequency with fewer destinations. These trends are accelerating; between 2019 and 2022, 161 US airports lost more than 1 in 4 of their commercial flights.

Black said the industry is on the precipice of “a wholesale collapse of small community air service.” It has already begun, she said, with 60 US airports losing more than half their air service since 2019. Every policymaker in the administration and Congress, said Black, “must set aside politics and address this crisis today.”