ViaAir (VC, Orlando Int'l) has made multiple cuts to frequencies on existing routes and has delayed the launch of new routes, blaming the situation on a shortage of pilots and increased training requirements.

In January, the Floridian virtual carrier outlined what it said would be its largest-ever network expansion. But it has now postponed planned routes between Orlando Sanford, Birmingham, AL and Mobile Downtown, as well as between Birmingham and Raleigh/Durham from original launch dates in April until at least June 27, according to the Alabama news site Al.com.

The cuts have also affected traffic from Austin Bergstrom Int'l, the airline's most important airport by weekly capacity. Austin-Amarillo, whose inaugural flight took place last September, stopped temporarily in April and will not resume until early June.

A twice-weekly connection between Austin and Baton Rouge has been suspended until the end of May, Al.com added.

As some scheduled passenger services in Mobile switched on May 8 to the new USD8.8 million Mobile Downtown Airport from Mobile Regional, ViaAir's route from Orlando was not among them. Via aircraft had not been seen at all in Mobile since April 15, according to NBC News.

The airline has imposed frequency cuts on the route between Birmingham and Pittsburgh Int'l, from four times a week to twice a week, to return to four from June 28, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Birmingham-Austin has seen the same cut in weekly flights.

Donald Bowman, director of planning and business development at ViaAir, told the newspaper that the scaling back of flights at the airline was due to a “nationwide shortage of qualified airline pilots industrywide” that has hit regional airlines in the United States especially hard.

In a further statement, Bowman also blamed large sign-on bonuses at competitors attracting pilots away from the airline. Increased training requirements and greater FAA oversight following the grounding of the B737 MAX have added to delays in bringing new pilots online, he added.

ViaAir operates three E120s and five E145s on scheduled and charter flights, but only two of the E145s are currently active, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. ViaAir is a virtual carrier with all flights operated by its technical subsidiary and AOC holder Via Airlines (VC, Orlando Int'l).