Alaska Airlines cancels dozens of flights as pilots picket - Bark Sedov

Alaska Airlines cancels dozens of flights as pilots picket

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of flights along the West Coast were canceled by Alaska Airlines on Friday, the same day off-duty pilots pickedet amid an impasse in contract negotiations with the airline that have lasted nearly three years.

According to flight-tracking website flightaware.com, more than 100 Alaska Airlines flights have been canceled by the airline, including 66 in Seattle, 20 in Portland, Oregon, 10 in Los Angeles and seven in San Francisco. According to a union website, pilots held rallies and pickets in all of these cities.

Air Lines Pilots Association pilots protested in New York City last week outside of the airline’s Investor Relations Day in a precursor to Friday’s picket line. Those who stood on the picket line Friday said they were off duty and blamed Alaska for the cancellations.

The cancellations and picketing come as air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels and demand surges as many Americans head into spring break for long-delayed vacations. Frustrated travelers took to social media about botched vacation plans, reporting there was a wait of up to 10 hours to speak to an airline representative about rebooking flights. Many said they could not fly out for a day or two.

Robyn Dold of Battle Ground, Wash., had planned to fly to Missouri with her husband, daughter and son-in-law on Friday to attend her father-in-law’s funeral. The family received an email from Alaska at midnight – six hours before departure – saying their flight was cancelled.

Dold spent hours on Friday in an airline queue and then in line at Portland International Airport, only to be told Alaska couldn’t get her to the funeral on time — or even to a city within 10 hours’ drive.

“We’d go with the flow if it were a vacation, but this is something that has a due date that we can’t change and it’s heartbreaking,” she said in a phone interview. “My husband is beside himself. His father was his very best friend.”

Dold, who was scheduled to deliver the eulogy, will instead be watching the funeral in a one-way livestream with her husband from home, she said.

“To be honest, what irritates me the most is that we were not informed in advance that this is possible. We could have made other arrangements in advance,'” Dold said. “This is really disappointing.”

The pilots have been in contract negotiations with the airline for nearly three years, and both sides are at an impasse.

The union says Alaska Airlines failed to adequately prepare for a return to flying after the pandemic and failed to take the necessary steps to retain or attract pilots when demand returned. Issues that remain to be resolved include job security, work rules and quality of life provisions that offer flexibility and reasonable schedules, it said in a statement, and the current pilot contract falls well short of peer airlines in several key areas.

Alaska Airlines said Friday it values ​​its pilots and respects their right to picket lines, but it also needs to negotiate a deal that will allow the airline to maintain growth and profitability. Alaska Airlines is working to recoup $2.3 billion in losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a statement.

The airline said it is currently offering competitive salaries for its pilots. For example, the average salary for an Alaska Airlines captain is currently $341,000 a year, the airline said.

Associated Press videographer Eugene Garcia in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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