Alaska Airlines to scale back flights amid slew of cancellations as pilot shortage persists

Apr 8, 2022, 6:45 AM
Alaska Airlines cancellations...
Travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

After a week of cancelled flights brought on by a shortage in pilots, Alaska Airlines will now be cutting 2% of its total flights through June.

Flight cancelations continue at Sea-Tac Airport

The move was made to account for the company’s “current pilot capacity,” as a means to avoid to day-of cancellations akin to what we’ve seen in recent days.

On Thursday, Alaska reported 42 cancelled flights, the bulk of which were scheduled to move through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Another 27 Sea-Tac flights for the airline have been cancelled as of early Friday morning. 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. As the airline further pointed out this week, the schedule for available pilots in April was set in January, with the company facing enough resignations in that period to cause the issues it’s seeing now.

Alaska Airlines says that its newly-enacted flight reductions won’t be reflected in its posted schedule until mid-April. That means more cancellations at least for the next few days, with the company vowing to “do everything we can to minimize disruptions to travelers’ plans.”

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Alaska Airlines to scale back flights amid slew of cancellations as pilot shortage persists