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Travelers can expect Alaska Airlines to keep canceling flights at high level for weeks

Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

In a message to Alaska Airlines employees Thursday evening, CEO Ben Minicucci said the high level of flight cancellations since April will continue through this month but added that stability should return to the schedule 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.

"We will continue to see these cancels through June 1st. We are working to manage these to reduce the impact as much as possible."

The chaos has been damaging for Seattle's hometown airline.

Passengers whose travel plans have been severely disrupted 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 offered an apology.

 

"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."

He then reiterated the message he'd sent to employees, saying that "the month of May will continue to be choppy" but that "for June and beyond, we've made significant changes to ensure a high degree of reliability."

In his message to staff, Minicucci acknowledged that responsibility for the situation lies with management.

"Since April, we have canceled too many flights, disrupted too many plans, stretched our teams too far," Minicucci wrote. "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."

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