SEATAC, Wash. — Dozens of flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are either canceled or delayed Friday morning.
As of 6 am, 64 Alaska Airlines flights in and out of the airport were canceled due to a pilot shortage caused by a planned picket.
Talks between the pilots and the airline have been deadlocked for three years.
Alaska Airlines’ pilots say they’re underpaid and overworked compared to pilots at United, Delta, and American airlines.
The pilots are pushing for contracts that are similar to that of their peers.
Alaska pilots are also picketing Friday in Anchorage, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Check the number of cancellations here.
The picket comes as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials say travel is expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels as spring break travel gets underway.
Volumes are expected to be around 80% to 85% of pre-pandemic levels. That’s close to the busiest travel days since August 2021.
The highest volume is expected to be up to 145,000 passengers a day. About 160,000 was the average in 2019.
Alaska Airlines released the following statement about the picket:
We understand how important it is to our pilots to secure a new contract. As the negotiations continue, we respect their right to engage in legally protected activities to voice their concerns.
We’re committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that recognizes the contributions of our pilots and supports them with increased pay, job security and greater work flexibility – key issues important to them.
It’s also vital for Alaska Airlines to negotiate a deal that allows us to maintain growth and profitability for a strong future. It’s crucial we continue to provide all of our employees with competitive pay and benefits as we hire more people, invest in new planes and fly our guests to new destinations. We believe the goals of the company and the goals of our pilots complement each other.
“A new pilot contract remains a top priority for Alaska,” said Jenny Wetzel, vice president of labor relations for Alaska Airlines. “We’ve put a package on the table that’s competitive and addresses the issues most important to our pilots. It’s a significant financial investment in our pilot group while recognizing that we are still working to recover from $2.3 billion in losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to conclude negotiations quickly so our pilots can enjoy these new benefits as soon as possible.”
In support of our pilots, we recently presented the union with a comprehensive proposal. Among the highlights:
- We’re offering a top of scale wage of $280 per hour for captains and a market wage adjustment a year after the contract is ratified to keep our pilots’ wages competitive with their peers at other airlines. For reference, an Alaska captain’s average salary is currently $341,000 per year. For first officers, we’ve proposed a rate of $100 per hour, which would be the #1 new hire rate in the nation.
- We’re ready to increase the job security of our pilots: Any aircraft operated by Alaska Air Group over 76 seats will be flown by Alaska’s seniority list pilots.
- We’d add significant flexibility on how our pilots can set their schedules along with additional support for our reserve pilots. Our pilots currently work 16 days a month on average.
We’ve been in talks with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) for a new agreement since the summer of 2019, with a mutual pause in talks for about a year as the industry weathered the pandemic. As a normal part of the process, we filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board in October 2021 to help move the process forward and facilitate an agreement. We look forward to making further progress at our next mediation session scheduled for later this month.
There are some flight cancellations connected to a shortage of pilots which has created operational challenges. We notified our guests whose flights have been impacted and apologize for the inconvenience. We’re working as quickly as possible to make things right and get them to their destinations.
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