SEATTLE, Washington: Alaska Airlines canceled more than 120 flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on April 1, affecting over 15,000 passengers, and the airline warned of more disruptions in the middle of the U.S. spring break.
"It is pretty frustrating. We got a text and email that the flight was going to be canceled at about midnight," said Matt Mullinix, who was scheduled to travel to Belize with his family, as reported by KIRO 7 News.
Media outlets were told by Alaska Airlines that flights were canceled due to a labor dispute with its pilots' union, which referred to a pilot shortage.
The Air Line Pilots Association said 1,500 pilots held informational pickets in several cities this week, lining the sidewalk in front of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and outside Alaska Airline's headquarters.
Union leaders said all participating pilots were off duty and not scheduled to fly, so flights were not canceled because of the picketing.
"Flights are being canceled because they don't have enough pilots in general," said Alaska Captain Joseph Youngerman, a union leader, according to KIRO 7 News.
"This should not have been a surprise to them. It certainly was not a surprise to us that they're going to have a problem covering their schedule," Youngerman said.
According to the union, after three years of negotiations Alaska has not offered a fair market contract that addresses pilot concerns about job security and scheduling.
Alaska Airlines declined a request for an interview, but stated that new pilot contracts remain a top priority, adding that more cancelations are possible in coming days.
As spring break travel gets underway, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials say travel is expected to reach some 80 to 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, close to the busiest travel days since August 2021.
The highest volume is expected to reach 145,000 passengers per day, compared to the average in 2019 of 160,000.