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SEATTLE – In a letter to Alaska Airlines staff today, PDG Ben Minicucci announced that the level of flight cancellations after April was fairly rapid, which means that stabilité devrait revenir au calendrier in June.
Of the 1,200 flights we run each day, we canceled about 50, or about 4%. This comes at a time when flights are already full, so rebooking options are limited and many of our customers have experienced very long wait times,” Minicucci wrote.
We’ll continue to see these cancellations through June 1. We strive to manage it to minimize its impact.
The chaos was detrimental to Seattle Airlines.
Passengers whose travel plans have been severely disrupted have found little help from the airline in finding alternate routes to their destination, with customer service phone lines indicating wait times of 10 a.m.
In a follow-up video message to the traveling public posted to YouTube Friday morning and emailed to members of the Alaska Mileage Plan, Minicucci issued an apology.
“I am deeply sorry,” he said in a two-minute video. “Every day I hear from friends, neighbors and guests how disruptive our flight cancellations were.”
He then repeated the message he sent to the staff, saying, “May will still be a hectic month” but “for June and beyond, we’ve made major changes to ensure a high degree of reliability.”
In his letter to employees, Minicucci acknowledged that responsibility for the situation rests with management.
“Since April, we’ve canceled too many flights, put too many plans on hold, and put too much pressure on our teams,” Minicucci wrote. “No excuses. The management team and I take responsibility and are implementing a plan to fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
He stressed that the chaos was not the result of the movement of the pilots’ union, which is in talks over a new contract and is considering a strike. This option stays away.
“I want to be clear: Our pilots are not on strike,” Minicucci said.
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He told employees that the reason for the series of cancellations in April and May boiled down to “there weren’t enough pilots to fly on the spring schedule”.
He said Alaska started in April and May with 63 fewer pilots than needed to keep up with the published flight schedule. The management realized this shortfall too late.
After the initial series of cancellations on April 1, Alaska reduced flight schedules, but “there was no way to completely bridge the gap,” Minicucci said.
Then define a problem-solving plan: centralize staff management and scheduling in one team and prioritize hiring, training, and hiring pilots, flight attendants, and other work groups.
However, he said it will take some time for the company’s complex operations to recover. He wrote that relief would not be in sight until June, when another 114 pilots would be available.
Tell employees that the airline should return to normal in July and August.
“By July and through the rest of the summer travel season, we should once again test a reliable and well-equipped operation,” said Minicucci. “50 more pilots, 400 flight attendants and 200 booking agents will join our ranks.
“Although we have reduced our flight volumes for this summer, we are not reducing our staffing plans,” he added. “Our goal is to attract more people before looking to accelerate growth again.”
Cancellations since April have shattered the faith of some longtime Alaskan liners loyalists. Tom Lennon and his wife, both top Alaskan frequent flyer programmers, were stranded in New Orleans when Alaska canceled their trip last weekend.
“I don’t really know what it would take to get my faith back in Alaska,” Lennon wrote in an email to the Seattle Times.
Minicucci ended his video message to the audience by inviting passengers to maintain their trust in the company.
“Long Term Alaska is a resilient airline with a history stretching back 90 years,” he said. “We’ll get it right and get back to Alaska that you can count on.”
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