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Alaska Air Blames Mass Flight Cancellations On Poor Planning Rather Than Pilot Absenteeism

Alaska Air Blames Mass Flight Cancellations On Poor Planning Rather Than Pilot Absenteeism

It wasn’t its own pilots picketing over failed contract negotiations that resulted in Alaska Airlines suffering “significant flight cancellations” last week, the Seattle-based carrier said on Friday.  Instead, Alaska Air blamed the COVID related staff sickness, bad weather and its own poor planning for the disruption that first hit just over a week ago.

A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines has been forced to clarify that the informational picketing events carried out by pilots were not the cause of the mass flight cancellations and has confirmed that pilots are not participating in any form of strike action.

It would appear then that it was a coincidence that the first wave of short notice cancellations occurred on the same day that pilots staged a picket.  So how did Alaska Air get to this point?

The airline says it is experiencing a pilot shortage because a training backlog built up in the first few months of 2022.  

“Trainings were canceled and delayed due to student or trainer illness during the Omicron surge and due to the operational impact of winter storms, and they were not rescheduled fast enough,” a spokesperson explains.

“At the same time, we typically schedule our flight crews three months in advance. But due to the training delays, we had 63 fewer pilots prepared to fly in April than we planned for in January.”

“We should have recognized this sooner and updated our schedule,” the company said in a statement.

Having failed to recognise the shortage earlier, Alaska says it had no choice but to cancel more than 100 flights last Friday on the same day.

The carrier should now be through the worst of the short term cancellations but Alaska has trimmed its schedule by around 2 percent through to the end of June.

The Allied Pilots Association which represents Alaska pilots says the airline failed to properly plan for increased travel demand and take the steps necessary to ensure it attracted and retained pilots.

The union claims Alaska is struggling to recruit new pilots because they can get better pay at rival carriers.

View Comment (1)
  • Well, if you can’t get away with blaming thunderstorms that happened in Florida a week earlier there’s always that trusty catch-all excuse…..COVID!!!!

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