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May 28, 2022

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‘Deeply sorry’ Alaska CEO: Flight cancellations to continue

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SEATTLE (AP) — The CEO of Alaska Airlines says the high level of flight cancellations since April will continue through this month.

The Seattle Times reports that Ben Minicucci said in a message to employees Thursday evening that stability should return in June.

“Of the 1,200 flights that we operate every day, we’ve been canceling about 50 of them, roughly 4%. This is coming at a time when flights are already full, so rebooking options are limited and many of our guests have experienced extraordinarily long hold times,” Minicucci wrote.

Passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted have found little help from the airline in finding alternative ways to their destination, with customer service phone lines citing hold times of up to 10 hours.

In a follow-up video message for the traveling public that was posted on YouTube Friday morning and sent via email to Alaska’s mileage plan members, Minicucci apologized.

“I’m deeply sorry,” he said in the two-minute video. “I hear every day from friends, neighbors and guests about how disruptive our flight cancellations have been.”

In his message to staff, Minicucci acknowledged that responsibility for the situation lies with management, saying he and the leadership team “take full responsibility.”

He said Alaska started April and May with 63 fewer pilots than needed to fly the published flight schedule. Management didn’t recognize this shortage until too late.

He said the airline has centralized staff and schedule planning under one team and prioritized hiring, training and recruiting for pilots, flight attendants and other workgroups.

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