Alaska Airlines predicts ‘choppy’ May as company hopes changes lead to smoother service
Airlines CEO says 150 pilots, 200 reservation agents and 1,100 flight attendants have been hired
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Airlines is predicting a “choppy” May this year as it attempts to fix a slew of flight cancellations that have dogged the company this spring.
In a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said the company had 63 fewer pilots than what was planned for when the schedule was originally built out.
The scheduling issues come more than a month after pilots held an informational picket at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to protest stalled contract negotiations. The pilots on the picket line were off the clock and were asking for job security and work rules that provide flexibility and reasonable schedules.
Minicucci said with 1,200 Alaska Airlines flights each day, the scheduling mishap is currently leading to about 50 cancellations, roughly 4% every day, numbers that he expects to continue to the end of May.
“By the time we caught this error, April and May schedules were bid on by our pilots and flight attendants, making it impossible to sufficiently adjust schedules to avoid cancellations,” Minicucci said.
Minicucci explained that with changes being made, it often takes time for an airline to “turn a corner.” He said with full flights being scheduled out, the lack of pilots available to fly left essentially no options for rebooking, leaving many passengers stranded before ever taking off.
To ease the burden, Minicucci said the airline is currently in the process of hiring and training 150 new pilots, 200 additional reservation agents and 1,100 new flight attendants, which he said joined with a reduced schedule will lead to smoother operations for “June and beyond.”
“The month of May will continue to be choppy and we’re doing everything we can to minimize the impact on you,” he said.
Minicucci wrote in an online statement that the airline should be back to “flying a reliable and well-staffed operation” by July, when he says an additional 50 pilots, 400 flight attendants and 200 reservation agents will have joined the company.
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