cloudyn.png
Wednesday August 17th, 2022 3:50AM

Alaska Airlines cancels 9% of its flights over staffing woes

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Alaska Airlines canceled dozens of U.S. West Coast flights Friday as off-duty pilots picketed in several major cities over an impasse in nearly three years of contract negotiations, and the airline said more cancellations were possible through the weekend.

More than 120 Alaska Airlines flights were canceled — about 9% of its operations — and about 15,300 passengers were affected, the airline said in a statement. Canceled flights included 66 in Seattle; 20 in Portland, Oregon; 10 in Los Angeles; and seven in San Francisco, according to the flight tracking website flightaware.com.

At the same time, pilots held a rally and picket line in all those cities, according to a union website. Pilots with the Air Lines Pilots Association also protested last week in New York City outside the airline’s Investor Relations Day in a precursor of Friday's picket. Those on the picket line Friday said they were off-duty and were not to blame for the canceled flights.

“It takes everyone at Alaska to run a successful and reliable operation. Today, we fell short. We’re grateful for all employees who are working hard to get our guests to where they need to go,” the airline said in the statement that did not mention the picketing.

The cancellations come as air travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels and demand is surging as many Americans head off on spring break for long-delayed vacations. Frustrated travelers vented on social media about botched vacation plans and reported that there was up to a 10-hour wait to speak with an airline representative about rescheduling flights. Many said they couldn't fly out for a day or two.

Robyn Dold, of Battle Ground, Washington, had planned to fly to Missouri on Friday with her husband, daughter and son-in-law to attend her father-in-law's funeral. The family received an email from Alaska at midnight — six hours before they were to take off — that said their flight was canceled.

Dold spent hours Friday on hold with the airline, and then in line at Portland International Airport, only to learn Alaska could not get them to the funeral on time — or even to a city within 10 hours' driving distance.

“We’d go with the flow if it was a vacation, but this is something that has a due date that we can’t change and it’s heartbreaking,” she said in a phone interview. “My husband is beside himself. His father was his very best friend.”

Dold, who was to deliver the eulogy, will instead watch the funeral on a one-way livestream with her husband from home, she said.

“What I think really irritates me the most, honestly, is that we weren’t given any notification ahead of time that this was a possibility. We could have made other arrangements,” said Dold. “That’s what’s really disappointing.”

Pilots on a picket line at Los Angeles International Airport said the cancellations were the result of understaffing by Alaska Airlines, which cut back during the pandemic and reacted too slowly when travel demand resumed.

"Everybody here is on their days off. Alaska Airlines is having staffing issues. They may not want to say that, but they’re having staffing issues," said Steve Van Metre, an Alaska Airlines captain.

"We’ve had several pilots leave for other airlines because of the quality-of-life issues at this company.”

Pilots have been in contract negotiations with the airline for nearly three years and the two sides are at an impasse.

The union says Alaska Airlines did not adequately prepare for a return to air travel after the pandemic and didn't take the necessary steps to retain or attract pilots as demand bounced back. Issues that still need to be resolved include job security, work rules and quality-of-life provisions that provide flexibility and reasonable schedules, it said in a statement, and the current pilot contract falls well behind those at comparable airlines in several key sections.

Alaska Airlines said Friday it values its pilots and respects their right to picket, but it also needs to negotiate a deal that allows the airline to maintain growth and profitability. The airline is working to recover $2.3 billion in losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a statement.

“A new pilot contract remains a top priority for Alaska,” Jenny Wetzel, vice president of labor relations for Alaska Airlines, said in a statement. “We’ve put a package on the table that’s competitive and addresses the issues most important to our pilots."

The airline said it offers competitive salaries for its pilots. For example, an Alaska Airlines captain’s average salary is $341,000 per year, the airline said.

____

Associated Press videographer Eugene Garcia in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Alaska Airlines cancels 9% of its flights over staffing woes
Alaska Airlines canceled dozens of U.S. West Coast flights Friday as off-duty pilots picketed in several major cities over an impasse in nearly three years of contract negotiations
7:26PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Officer killed in Pennsylvania was 1 month from retirement
Authorities say a police lieutenant killed on duty in Pennsylvania was one month away from retirement when a man suspected of breaking into a family member’s home opened fire on responding officers
7:21PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Will Smith resigns from film academy over Chris Rock slap
Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed
7:19PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Talks resume as Ukraine denies hitting depot on Russian soil
Talks to stop the fighting in Ukraine have resumed as another attempt to rescue civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol broke down
6:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Amazon workers in NYC vote to unionize in historic labor win
Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionize on Friday, marking the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history
5:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Jury gets case of 4 men charged in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
Jurors have heard closing arguments and will begin deliberations Monday in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
5:30PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Alaska Airlines cancels dozens of flights as pilots picket
Dozens of West Coast flights are being canceled by Alaska Airlines on the same day that pilots are picketing over stalled contract negotiations
5:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Qatari official: Rainbow flags may be taken to protect fans
A senior Qatari leader overseeing security for the World Cup has told The Associated Press that rainbow flags could be taken from supporters
4:17PM ( 3 hours ago )
Vulnerable Dems warn Biden about reopening asylum
The Biden administration’s decision to end sweeping asylum limits at the border this May satisfied demands by prominent Democrats
3:27PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
Officer killed in Pennsylvania was 1 month from retirement
Authorities say a police lieutenant killed on duty in Pennsylvania was one month away from retirement when a man suspected of breaking into a family member’s home opened fire on responding officers
7:21PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Will Smith resigns from film academy over Chris Rock slap
Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed
7:19PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Judge upholds Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction
A judge has declined to throw out Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction, despite a juror’s failure to disclose he’d been a victim of childhood sexual abuse
6:56PM ( 38 minutes ago )
U.S. auto sales fall in Q1 as chip shortage slows factories
U.S. new-vehicle sales fell about 12% in the first quarter compared with a year ago, as the global computer chip shortage continued to slow factories amid high consumer demand
6:49PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Politically charged US-Iran in first Middle East World Cup
The most controversial World Cup ever will feature in Qatar the most politically charged matchups
6:43PM ( 50 minutes ago )