Alaska Airlines is reducing 2% of its flights through the end of June due to a pilot shortage, the carrier said Thursday.
The reductions, made in an effort to match the carrier's current pilot capacity, will be reflected in Alaska's posted schedule in mid-April, the carrier said in a notice. Alaska also cautioned that these reductions will show up as cancelations.
The schedule adjustment comes at a time when travelers are already flooding back to airports nationwide, with airport traffic nearing pre-pandemic levels. Demand has continued to pick up in recent weeks as travelers headed off on spring break and other vacations that may have been delayed over the pandemic.
The carrier was already forced to cancel "an unusual number of flights" at the beginning of the month because of a backlog in their pilot training program, Alaska said. The cancellations, however, were not related to the pilots who planned an informational picket earlier this month over an impasse of contract negotiations, according to Alaska.
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"Trainings were canceled and delayed due to student or trainer illness during the Omicron surge and due to the operational impact of winter storms, and they were not rescheduled fast enough," Alaska said.
As a result of the delays, the carrier had "63 fewer pilots prepared to fly in April than we planned for in January."
However, more than 30 pilots are expected to graduate the training school this month, "and even more in May," which is expected to help the passenger carrier get back on track amid the bustling travel season.
In the meantime, Alaska said it will try to minimize disruptions and alert affected passengers in advance.
Those customers will also be privy to a "unique phone number" directing them to "someone who can help without an extended wait," according to the airline.