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First Coast

JAX preps for big travel season

Frontier.jpg
Frontier Airlines jetliners sit at gates at Denver International Airport.

With the summer travel season approaching, officials at Jacksonville International Airport say they don't expect disruption from a nationwide pilot shortage — at least right now.

“I think in terms of how the pilot shortage will potentially affect Jacksonville, it’s too soon to tell," said airport spokesman Greg Willis. "It’s certainly an issue that’s upcoming in the aviation industry and something that the airlines will have to address in the future.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the airline industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 14,000 commercial pilots will be needed every year for the next decade to fill the void.

Other cities see airlines hiring charter buses to get travelers to their destinations.

The airport is gearing up for what’s expected to be an extremely busy summer travel season.

Officials expect numbers this year to be similar to 2019, when Jacksonville’s International Airport broke passenger records.

“Looking at flight schedules going into the summer for 2022, it looks like summer of 2019, which is when we had record-breaking travel numbers," Willis said. "So in terms of the pilot shortage, a little too soon to tell just yet in terms of how it’ll affect our community."

With those expected record numbers comes a need for more workers of all kinds at the airport, not just pilots.

The airport has turned to job fairs for positions ranging from concessions to rental car companies.

The next one will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 25 at the Airport’s DoubleTree Hotel.