Fewer flights called off as Alaska Airlines cancellation wave rolls into fifth day

Published on : Thursday, April 7, 2022

Alaska Airlines

Dozens of Alaska Airlines flights had been cancelled Tuesday morning, as a wave of cancellations roiling the airline since Friday appeared to ebb.

The airline, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s largest carrier, had announced 22 new cancellations as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total number of flights cancelled that day to 32, according to a website.

Twenty Alaska flights scheduled for Wednesday had been cancelled, as had another 20 cut for Thursday.

Staffing shortages have been largely to blame for hundreds of cancellations that have delayed or stranded tens of thousands of passengers.|

While pilots are in short supply across the airline industry, Alaska has been hit harder by the pilot shortage than most of its competitors.

The airline, currently in an increasingly bitter standoff with the union representing its pilots over a new contract, has lost dozens of pilots this year to other major carriers.

The cancellations have grounded tens of thousands of passengers, some of whom reported 10-hour wait times on Alaska’s customer service line.

Constance von Muehlen, Alaska’s Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement Saturday that the airline is “doing everything they can” to support affected passengers.

An internal Alaska Air memo indicated an unanticipated shortage of pilots is driving the cancellations.

Capt. John Ladner, Alaska’s vice president of flight operations, wrote in a Friday email to pilots that operational performance was below the level many of them expect.

The primary driver for our performance right now is the shortage of pilots we have available to fly versus what was planned when we built our April schedule in January.

Ladner cited the level of attrition as a major factor, and said Alaska was offering 150% of pay to pilots willing to pick up extra flights. The airline’s management has been locked in contract negotiations with the Air Line Pilots Association union for three years.

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