At hearing, Delta Airlines says route decisions are continuously evaluated, pilot shortage should be “short lived”
Washington, D.C. – At a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing this week, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper pushed Delta Airlines to maintain service to the Grand Junction Regional Airport. Despite breaking travel records, the airline recently announced that it will be discontinuing its flight from Grand Junction to Salt Lake City in January.
“It’s a critical route for Grand Junction. It fits into their economic package in a variety of ways. Just what I’ve always been told the airlines want to become — an essential part of a local economy,” Hickenlooper said at the hearing. “It really is a key travel hub to access a number of Western cities. It’s been used for 24 years, over millions of customers. And just this year alone, we’ve had 80,000 customers flying on that route.”
Delta’s flight to Salt Lake City accounts for 20 percent of commercial passenger flights from Grand Junction Regional Airport. The flight is usually 90 percent full.
In response to Hickenlooper’s question about the decision to suspend service, Delta Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations John Laughter said that he thinks that a current pilot shortage is “short lived” and the airline is continuously evaluating when to restore routes.
“We aren’t able to serve every place that we would like to. And so I do think that that’s short lived and we see recovery happening in 2022,” Laughter said at the hearing.“And so as always, these cities — we desire to serve them. And so I think that is part of our continual analysis to see when we can get back in there. And we have resumed service to some places that were suspended during the pandemic.”
For video of the exchange, click HERE.
Hickenlooper will continue conversations with the airline and Grand Junction officials to help restore service on this key route.