Alaska Air Group will end service at Colorado Springs on 4 November due to a shortage of pilots at subsidiary Horizon Air, the Colorado Springs airport announces.
The service cut marks more fallout from a pilot shortage that significantly impacted Horizon’s operation in recent months, leading the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.
The shortage also led Horizon to delay delivery of six Embraer 175 regional jets, further souring already-strained relations with pilots, which have since sued the airline in federal court.
“Horizon… announced that current pilot shortages have forced them to discontinue service to Colorado Springs, effective November 4,” says the Colorado Springs airport in a 15 September media release.
Alaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FlightGlobal.
The airport’s release cites an Alaska spokesperson as saying: “Unfortunately, these [pilot] shortages are expected to continue for some time”.
Alaska serves Colorado Springs only via flights operated by Horizon. The regional airline flies to Colorado Springs once daily from Seattle using an Embraer 175, according to FlightGlobal schedules data.
Horizon operates 10 E175s – all of which it received in 2017. Those aircraft are among an order for 30 E175s Embraer is scheduled to deliver by 2020.
But Alaska confirmed last week it had deferred delivery of six E175s to “later in 2018” amid a shortage of pilots.
After learning that news, union International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its Airline Professionals Association unit, which represents Horizon’s pilots, sued the company in federal court.
The union alleged that due to a pilot shortage Alaska intends to transfer some E175s from Horizon to SkyWest Airlines, a partner carrier.
Such a move would violate the union’s agreements with the company, and violate labour laws, the union argues in a lawsuit filed on 1 September.
Alaska told FlightGlobal on 6 September that “nothing has been decided” about the six deferred E175s.
The company adds that it remains committed to its original plan of having Horizon operating 30 E175s by 2020.
The same pilot shortage led Horizon to cancel 6% of flights in August, and cancellations have continued. Horizon’s chief executives David Campbell has conceded that the company’s hiring plans failed to keep up with E175-related growth plans.
Alaska chief executive Brad Tilden said during an industry conference on 6 September that Horizon’s pilot woes are likely to continue to the middle or end of 2018.