Alaska Airlines cancels dozens of flights as pilots picket
Dozens of flights along the West Coast were canceled on Friday as Alaska Airlines pilots picketed a stalemate in contract negotiations with the airline that have lasted nearly three years.
More than 100 Alaska Airlines flights have been canceled by the airline, including 66 to Seattle, 20 to Portland, Oregon, 10 to Los Angeles and seven to San Francisco, according to flight tracking site flightaware.com. The flights were also to be assigned to Anchorage, Alaska. The pilots planned to hold a rally and picket in all those cities on Friday, according to a union website.
Air Lines Pilots Association pilots also protested last week in New York outside the airline’s Investor Relations Day in a precursor to Friday’s picket line.
The trading actions come as air travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels and demand surges as many Americans head out over spring break for a long-delayed vacation. Frustrated travelers have spoken out on social media about botched vacation plans and reported waiting up to 10 hours to speak with an airline representative about rescheduling flights. Many said they couldn’t fly for a day or two.
Robyn Dold, of Battle Ground, Wash., 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 takeoff – saying their flight had been cancelled.
Dold spent hours on Friday waiting with the airline, then queuing at Portland International Airport, only to learn that Alaska couldn’t get them to the funeral in time — or even to a town in less than 10 hours drive.
“We would go with the flow if it was a vacation, but it’s something that has a due date that we can’t change and it’s heartbreaking,” she said in an interview. telephone. “My husband is beside himself. His father was his best friend. »
Dold, who was scheduled to deliver the eulogy, will instead watch the funeral live with her husband from home, she said.
“Honestly, what irritates me the most, I think, is that we weren’t informed in advance that this was a possibility. We could have made other arrangements in advance if they had been like, ‘Hey, you know, the pilots might go on strike on April 1,'” said Dold, who said she didn’t know enough about contract negotiations to pass judgment on The Strike. “That’s what’s really disappointing.”
The 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 has not sufficiently prepared for a return to air travel after the pandemic and has not taken the necessary steps to retain or attract pilots as demand rebounds. Issues that still need to be resolved include job security, work rules and quality of life provisions that provide flexibility and reasonable hours, he said in a statement, and the pilot contract. current lags well behind those of comparable airlines in several key sections.
Alaska Airlines said Friday it values its pilots and respects their right to picket, but also needs to negotiate a deal that allows the airline to maintain growth and profitability. Alaska Airlines is working to recover $2.3 billion in losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a statement.
The airline said it currently offers competitive salaries to its pilots. For example, the average salary for an Alaska Airlines captain is currently $341,000 a year, the airline said.