Hundreds of Alaska Airlines flights were cancelled on Friday as pilots staged a protest following a nearly three-year standstill in contract negotiations with the airline.
According to flight tracking website flightaware.com, Alaska Airlines cancelled more than 100 flights, including 66 in Seattle, 20 in Portland, Oregon, 10 in Los Angeles, and seven in San Francisco. Flights in Anchorage, Alaska, were also likely to be impacted. According to a union website, pilots planned to demonstrate and picket in all of those cities on Friday.
Pilots from the Air Lines Pilots Association protested outside the airline's Investor Relations Day last week in New York City, a prelude to Friday's picket.
The strikes come as air travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels, and demand is increasing as many Americans take long-awaited vacations over spring break. Travelers who were dissatisfied with their holiday plans expressed their frustrations on social media, claiming that they had to wait up to ten hours to talk with an airline official about changing flights. Many people indicated they wouldn't be able to leave for a day or two.
Alaska Airlines, according to the union, failed to sufficiently plan for a return to air travel following the pandemic and failed to take the required steps to retain or attract pilots when demand increased. Job security, work standards, and quality-of-life provisions that allow flexibility and fair schedules are still unresolved, according to the statement, and the present pilot contract lags well below comparable airline contracts in numerous critical areas.
Alaska Airlines said Friday that it respects its pilots and respects their right to strike, but that it must also work out an agreement that allows the company to continue to develop and profit. Alaska Airlines announced in a statement that it is attempting to recover $2.3 billion in losses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.