FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Despite efforts to ramp up pilot training, the availability of pilots remains a constraint for American Airlines' expansion plans. The airline intends to bolster its active fleet with 32 large jets and recruit roughly 2,000 pilots in 2023, according to a recent announcement by company executives.

The pilot shortage has had a significant impact on American Airlines Group's regional operations, including its subsidiaries Envoy, PSA Airlines, and Piedmont Airlines.

"At American right now, we have an issue with regional aircraft and some problem with mainline aircraft. It's largely about pilot constraints," said American chief executive Robert Isom.

"It's just a shortfall in pilots. We didn't attract people into the business for a couple of years," Isom added.

The shortage of pilots at American Airlines is exacerbated by an ongoing problem of pilots leaving the company. Similar to other airlines, American reduced its pilot workforce during the pandemic through early retirement and temporary leave programs. The company's CEO, Doug Isom, has stated that 900 pilots retired in 2022, and more are expected to retire in 2023.

To tackle the pilot shortage, American Airlines has taken various measures, including dramatically increasing the starting salary for pilots at its regional affiliates.

As it continues to expand its fleet, American Airlines received several new aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2022, including seven Airbus A321neos, five 787-8s, and three Embraer 175s. Additionally, the airline activated five previously acquired 737 MAX 8s from storage. This year, American will take delivery of an additional 23 aircraft and move another nine 737 MAX 8s from storage to active service.

The 23 expected new aircraft to arrive at American Airlines this year will consist of two Airbus A321neos, 17 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and four 787-8s. The airline will own the A321neos and 737s, but the 787s will be leased. It is worth noting that the 17 incoming 737 MAX are fewer than the 27 that American was expecting to receive from Boeing in 2023. The American aircraft manufacturer has cited supply chain and labor shortages as reasons for the production disruptions and delays in the deliveries of the 737 MAXs for all of its customers. American Airlines anticipates taking delivery of more 787-9s in 2024.