Alaska Airlines cancels more than 120 flights as pilots picket
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Airlines pilots were on the picket line outside of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Friday as 120 flights system wide were canceled.
Alaska Airlines pilots picketed after hitting a wall in contract negotiations with the airline that have lasted nearly three years. Alaska Airlines External Affairs Manager Tim Thompson said in an email that canceled flights are about 9% of their overall operation, affecting over 15,000 passengers. Thompson stated that the flights were cancelled due to a shortage of pilots which is creating operational challenges.
Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association International for Alaska Airlines in Anchorage Captain Jeff Schroeder said that Alaska Airlines needs to get serious about reaching a contract agreement.
“For now, our main thrust is to get a contract as soon as we can,” Schroeder said. “We’re not interested in a strike unless it becomes necessary.”
The pilots association says a couple of areas have been resolved, but there are still issues that need to be agreed upon, which include job security and work rules that provide flexibility and reasonable schedules. In an email, the association wrote that Alaska pilots were joined by other pilots picketing in major cities on the West Coast, as well as in Canada.
“A new pilot contract remains a top priority for Alaska,” Vice President of Labor Relations for Alaska Airlines Jenny Wetzel said in an email. “We’ve put a package on the table that’s competitive and addresses the issues most important to our pilots.”
Wetzel also wrote that Alaska Airlines is working to recover $2.3 billion in losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, and recently offered a top of scale wage for captains of $280 per hour, and for first officers, a proposed rate of $100 per hour, which the airlines claims would be the highest new hire rate in the nation.
At Friday’s picket, 100 Alaska Airline pilots showed up on their day off, with some even working overnight shifts before attending. Schroeder said that they did so because for them, it’s personal.
“For most of us we live here in Southcentral, we want to continue to fly our neighbors and friends, we want the company to be growing with us,” Schroeder said.
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