Cancellations continue at Alaska’s largest airport due to Alaska Airlines pilot shortage

Alaska Airlines pilots picket outside the South Terminal
Alaska Airlines pilots picket outside the South Terminal(Taylor Burke)
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 9:07 AM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2022 at 2:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Airlines canceled more flights Sunday, the third straight day of a protest by pilots.

The airline announced on its website Sunday morning that it had grounded 73 flights throughout the airline, or about 6% of its total operations.

By Monday, another 39 flights were canceled, leaving almost 6,000 passengers looking for another way to their destination. The airline said more cancellations are possible Monday.

It all amounts to over 15,800 passengers without a flight between Sunday and Monday, according to the airline. An average of about 7% of Alaska Airlines flights have been canceled each day since Friday.

Some pilots in Anchorage joined others in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle who staged pickets lines. Pilots said they had no choice.

“We’ve been bargaining for three years and it’s time for Alaska Airlines to get serious about completing a contract for the Alaska Airlines’ pilots,” said Capt. Jeff Schroeder, Chairman of the Airline Pilots Association Anchorage Council.

An Alaska Airlines captain, according to a news release from the airline, averages about $341,000 a year, but pilots say it’s not just about money — they also want work rule changes, job security and scheduling flexibility.

“Pilots want flexibility to be able to spend time at home, and also be able to go to work and get the job done for our friends and family,” Schroeder said.

The airline said it’s ready to increase job security for pilots. Any aircraft operated by Alaska Air Group over 76 seats will be flown by a senior pilot. Plus, it’s also open to flexibility with pilots’ schedules.

The protest, according to Schroeder, took place to mark the third anniversary of when negotiations started in April 2019. He also said the Airline Pilots Association is not interested in a full strike, but it’s not ruling it out to get what it wants.

Alaska Airlines said it filed for mediation with the national mediation board in October 2021. It hopes to make further progress during the next mediation session scheduled for later in April.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Alaska Airlines pilots did not take part in walkouts.

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