Alaska Airlines says it is experiencing “significant flight cancellations” after many of its pilots staged what the aircrew union has described as “non-disruptive informational picketing” to protest at stalled contract negotiations.
The Seattle-based airline said that by late Friday morning it had been forced to cancel at least 120 flights, leaving more than 15,300 passengers stranded. A spokesperson was unable to confirm the exact reason for the cancellations but warned that further disruption was expected over the weekend.
Pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) were due to stage informational picketing events in five major cities across the United States in its dispute with Alaska Airlines. The largest event was expected at Seattle SeaTac Airport but the union had promised a “non-disruptive” event.
“They’re trying to distract the public from their mismanagement and blame the pilots who helped save their company,” commented the Alaska Airlines Master Executive Council over the airline’s decision to start cancelling flights.
The union claims the airline has known for months that it is understaffed and it is struggling to recruit new pilots because pay and conditions at Alaska aren’t attractive.
“In fact, just this week, ALPA met with two corporate vice presidents who made clear that they have failed to adequately retain and staff up to meet a predictable return to flying,” the union slammed.
Negotiations have been in the works for more than three years but were suspended during the pandemic. The airline says it is “committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that recognizes the contributions of our pilots”.
The matter has been moved before a federal mediator but Alaska insists any deal must ensure the airline can maintain its growth targets. Further negotiations through the mediator are pencilled in for later this month.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.