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Alaska Airline's cancellation woes not over yet; CEO says it will be back on track by July

May 15, 2022
3 min read
Alaska Airline's cancellation woes not over yet; CEO says it will be back on track by July
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Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci has apologized for the airline's continuing problems with flight cancellations while also signaling that things should start to improve next month.

“I’m deeply sorry,” Minicucci said in a YouTube video that was emailed to Alaska's Mileage Plan members. “I hear every day from friends, neighbors and guests about how disruptive our flight cancellations have been.”

The airline's chief executive said the steps taken to correct Alaska's problems will take some time to take effect, and says the airline should be "back on track" by July and August.

The carrier says it has been canceling roughly 50 flights a day, about 4% of its 1,200 daily flight schedule, since April. Airline officials say the primary reason for the spate of cancellations is that the airline simply doesn't have enough pilots to fly its planes. According to FlightAware, the airline had 12 cancellations on Saturday, May 14, just 1% of its total schedule.

“This is coming at a time when flights are already full, so rebooking options are limited,” Minicucci said in the video.

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(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

As TPG reported, the carrier had already reduced its total flight schedule by 2% as part of its efforts to minimize the impact to travelers.

Compounding the problem for passengers stranded by canceled flights has been incredibly long wait times trying to get through to Alaska's customer service agents. The airline is also addressing that by expanding its staff across the company.

“By July and through the rest of the summer travel season, we should be back to flying a reliable and well-staffed operation,” Minicucci said. “An additional 50 pilots, 400 flight attendants and 200 reservations agents will have joined our ranks.”

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Related: What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

He admitted that the pilot shortage caught management off guard and that executives didn't recognize the potential for disruption until it was too late. “There are no excuses. The leadership team and I take responsibility and we’re executing a plan to get this right and ensure it doesn’t happen again," Minicucci said.

He also emphasized that the disruption has nothing to do with the pilot's union and current negotiations over a new contract. “I want to be clear – our pilots are not on strike,” he said.

As TPG previously reported, Alaska's problems began when it started April with 63 fewer pilots than it needed to operate its flight schedule. Now, the airline has centralized staff and schedule planning under a single management team and has put a priority on hiring, training and recruitment for pilots, flight attendants and other airline personnel.

Related: Alaska Air and Horizon launch pilot academy

Like many airlines, Alaska Air has struggled to regain its form following two years of pandemic-related disruption to the aviation industry. Back in January, it had to cancel 10% of its flights because of COVID-19 and weather issues.

Featured image by PR NEWSWIRE
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.