CHICAGO, ILLINOISSpeaking during the company’s 2021 fourth-quarter results, United Airlines CCO Andrew Nocella said the airline would cut more routes to secondary cities in the coming months due to the ongoing pilot shortage problem for regional aircraft.

United has so far cut flights to 20 cities and more route suspensions are on the way.

"we are facing a pilot shortage on our regional aircraft – not on our mainline aircraft – and we expect that shortage to continue for a while, including for the rest of 2022,” Nocella said.

The problem is here to stay and will continue to impact airlines' plannings on regional routes for one or two years more.

The pandemic accelerated pilot retirements in 2020 as airline operators laid off their employees - including pilots - to cut costs during the pandemic and stored their planes due to the low demand for air travel.

Now airlines are returning those aircraft to the service as demand for air travel gardually returns to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the industry analysts, regional subsidiaries of the major airlines will suffer most from the new post-pandemic pilot shortage. Although regional carriers usually pay lower salaries to regional aircraft pilots, they are now offering up to $30,000 in signing bonuses and additional bonuses to attract and retain them.