Bemidji Airport Sharing Flights with Brainerd Due to Pilot, Staff Shortages
The national pilot shortage is having a major effect on local airports.
The Bemidji Regional Airport is one of many across the nation that have seen a change in operations following staffing shortages, particularly with pilots. Usually allowing for direct flights to and from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, the airport’s morning and late evening flights will now stop at Brainerd to accommodate for this problem.
Due to an aging pilot population, fewer fresh faces, and rising requirements for piloting commercial flights, this current predicament is something the airline industry has been anticipating for almost a decade.
Implemented on September 14th, the Bemidji Regional Airport now has to account for passengers flying to and from not only their area but Brainerd as well. Stopping halfway to either pick up or drop off people in Brainerd, sharing the market is a way for SkyWest Airlines (the operator of the Delta flights in Bemidji) to alleviate the staffing shortage.
However, due to the same aircraft, which usually carries at maximum 50 passengers, picking up people in two locations, getting a seat on an early morning or late night flight may be an extra challenge for said passengers.
The 5 p.m. flight from Bemidji to Minneapolis/St. Paul will remain a direct connection. Currently, there is no set timeline for the other flights out of or to Bemidji to resume normal scheduling.