SEATAC, Wash. — Alaska Airlines pilots are set to begin voting on a strike. The ballot for the strike opens on Monday, May 9, and closes on May 25.
Right now, contract negotiations between Alaska Airlines and pilots are at an impasse. For years now, contract negotiations between the two parties have failed.
The negotiations and the current industry-wide pilot shortage have had a direct impact on Sea-Tac International Airport, which dealt with dozens of flight cancellations on Friday. At least 28 of those cancellations were Alaska Airlines flights.
At least 26 arriving and departing Alaska Airlines flights were canceled as of 9:50 a.m. Monday, according to the Port of Seattle website.
The Air Line Pilots Association, the union representing pilots, said the company has failed to meet demands for better pay and scheduling, among other issues.
Now, the union is preparing for a possible strike, saying it is not messing around and that it is just trying to make sure the pilots get the contract they deserve.
Pilots have also held their ground on the matter, conducting the largest picket in Air Line Pilots Association history on April 1.
Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines said in a statement to KING 5 that the hiring environment is highly competitive, with the largest airlines expecting to hire up to 10,000 pilots in 2022.
"While it’s true that pilot attrition is higher than pre-pandemic levels, neither attrition nor our pilot labor negotiation are driving our operational challenges. A delay in getting our pilots through training is the primary driver of recent cancellations," said Bobbie Egan, director of external communications, in an email.
The airline said it is taking steps to limit the number of cancelations, including centralizing staff and resource planning, working on ways to produce more pilots from training, and working to understand the cause of higher attrition and absenteeism despite lower COVID-19 rates.
"We’ll continue to do everything we can to minimize disruptions to the travel plans of our guests, but it will take some time to fully work through this challenge," said Egan.