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Alaska Airlines reducing flights until June due to pilot shortage

Alaska Airlines said it is reducing “about 2% of our total flights through the end of June to match our current pilot capacity.”

SEATTLE — Dozens of flights were canceled again at Sea-Tac Airport Friday morning.

As of 7:30 a.m. Friday, at least 34 flights were canceled, 31 of which were Alaska Airlines flights.

The cancelations are being caused by an industry-wide shortage of commercial pilots, which has led to hundreds of recent flight cancelations, leaving tens of thousands of travelers stranded across the country.

Alaska Airlines has been hit especially hard as it struggles to come to a new contract agreement with the union representing its pilots.

Both sides have been trying to reach an agreement for three years now.

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In a press release, Alaska Airlines said Thursday that it is “reducing about 2% of our total flights through the end of June to match our current pilot capacity.” The airline said the reductions would be reflected in its posted schedule in mid-April, but the reductions will appear as cancelations in the meantime.

“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,” the airline said in a press release.

According to Alaska Airlines, 30 pilots will graduate this month “and even more in May.”

Last week, Alaska Airlines pilots held an informational picket up and down the West Coast to inform the public about the ongoing contract negotiations, which were postponed after 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The airline has apologized to passengers, blaming the cancelations on the pilot shortage and training delays, but the union representing pilots said the airline has failed to take the steps needed to retain and attract pilots.

In a statement released last week the Air Line Pilots Association, International said, "Alaska Airlines failed to properly plan for increased travel demand."

It goes on to say, "Now, they’re trying to distract the public from their mismanagement and blame the pilots who helped save their company. Pilot leaders have been warning for years that pilots will choose to fly for other airlines due to an inadequate contract that will only exacerbate existing staffing challenges."

All flight statuses for Sea-Tac Airport are available on the Port of Seattle's website.

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