Alaska Airlines to reduce flights by 2% to improve service after cancellations, pilot shortage

After numerous cancellations and to get back on track, Alaska Airlines is planning to reduce its total number of flights by 2% through the end of June, according to a news release on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of passengers who booked flights on the airline recently found themselves stranded, including at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as flights were canceled due to a pilot shortage.

On Thursday, the airline admitted it had a shortage of pilots and had canceled 42 flights out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

On Monday, 30 additional flights were canceled at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

At least 10 more flights scheduled for Tuesday had also been canceled.

The cancellations started the same day as members of the Alaska Airlines Pilots Union held an informational picket for a new contract following two years of failed negotiations.

Alaska Airlines released a statement about two hours ago, which said it was deeply sorry to its loyal customers after canceling “an unusual number of flights.”

The airline also said in part, “We put you in a frustrating situation-most likely when you were looking to take a fun trip, family vacation or needed to get somewhere important to you. We must do better. Over the last few days, we looked at how we got here, and are taking action to get back on track. We’re committed to being the airline you love.”

To improve its performance the airline said it will reduce its flights by about 2% through the end of June, matching its current pilot capacity.

Those reductions will reportedly show up as cancellations, and the airline plans to post its schedule in mid-April.

“We will do everything we can to minimize disruptions to your plans and we will let you know in advance if your itinerary is impacted by these schedule adjustments,” airline officials stated.

In an additional effort to improve its performance, the airline said it will graduate more than 30 new pilots this month and more in May.

During the pandemic, more than 10,000 pilots had left the airline industry.

The airline had launched a new academy to bring in new pilots, but the airline said a backlog in its training program had built up, and trainings were canceled and delayed due to student and trainer illnesses. This prevented trainings from being rescheduled quickly enough.

With those training delays, the airline said it was short 63 pilots for April.

Pilots with Alaska Airlines are still working to secure an agreement on a long-term contract.

As for those who have booked with Alaska Airlines, it has set up a dedicated phone line for people who have questions about cancellations.