Flight cancelations continue at Sea-Tac amid ongoing Alaska Airlines pilot shortage

Apr 4, 2022, 6:27 AM | Updated: Apr 6, 2022, 6:02 pm

Alaska Airlines flights cancelled...

A lone traveler waits at the check-in counter for Alaska Airlines. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

An additional 27 Alaska and horizon flights have been canceled Wednesday at Sea-Tac airport, and at least 34 have been called off nationwide.

Since Friday, dozens of Alaska Airlines flights passing through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have been canceled over what the company says is a growing pilot shortage.

Mass flight cancellations started late last week, as Alaska Airlines pilots picketed across Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Anchorage over a labor contract that hasn’t been renegotiated in nearly a decade.

Talks between the airline and the union representing pilots have been ongoing since 2019, but were paused for a year “as the industry weathered the pandemic,” the company notes. Alaska says that it filed for mediation in October of 2021, with a session scheduled for late April.

Alaska Airlines cancels at least 71 Sea-Tac flights as pilots picket

The airline also notes that “a new pilot contract remains a top priority,” but between an increase in travel demand and recent resignations from scores of pilots, the union says that this recent run of flight cancellations was inevitable.

“What you’re seeing is something that we warned the company about late last fall and ongoing warnings issued throughout the spring about the fact that attritions was becoming a material concern — that they would have enough pilots to operate the schedule,” Alaska Airlines MEC chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association Will McQuillen told KIRO 7 News.

Alaska tells KIRO Newsradio that at least 387 flights have been called off since Friday.

“The primary driver for cancellations is the shortage of pilots available to fly versus what was planned when we built our April schedule in January. Across the industry, airlines are seeing a strain on pilot capacity as air travel demand returns, airlines are all hiring, and it takes airlines are hiring faster than we’re able to hire and train new pilots,” a statement from Alaska Airlines reads.

“Additional cancellations are possible.”

KIRO 7 News staff contributed to this report

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Flight cancelations continue at Sea-Tac amid ongoing Alaska Airlines pilot shortage