airline news: Alaska


From Yahoo! News

Alaska Airlines cancels 41 flights over volcanic ash

Alaska Airlines canceled 41 flights by early on Monday because of a towering plume of ash created by the eruption of a volcano last week, the airline said.

The cancellations began Sunday evening and affected flights between Alaska and Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, British Colombia, the airline said in a statement.

The ash was created by the eruption of Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Islands on Thursday.

“These decisions are guided by our commitment to safety, and we are making every effort to re-accommodate passengers whose flight schedules have been disrupted,” said Glenn Johnson, executive vice president of airports, maintenance and engineering.

The airline also issued a travel advisory on its Web site that said volcanic ash cloud could affect Anchorage, Fairbanks and southeastern Alaska destinations.

Alaska Airlines canceled the flights after the National Weather Service issued a warning Sunday for an area in Southeast Alaska near the panhandle, spokeswoman Caroline Boren told the Anchorage Daily News.

“If there’s an ash plume in the way, we won’t fly,” she was quoted as saying.

Kristi Wallace, a research geologist for the Alaska Volcano Observatory, told the newspaper the wind sheared off part of a 40,000-foot ash plume and carried it northeast from the North Pacific.


Source: Seattle Times

**Arbitrator rules Alaska Airlines broke union contract when it outsourced baggage handling
By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Three years after more than 480 Alaska Airlines baggage handlers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were replaced by lower-paid staff working for an outside vendor, a federal arbitrator ruled Alaska violated its contract with the Machinists union in outsourcing those jobs.

The arbitrator directed the airline Thursday to begin talks with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union to reach a remedy. If they can’t agree, the case will go back to the arbitrator.

Steve Gordon, IAM District 143 president, said the union will push to bring back the same number of union jobs at Sea-Tac.

“Our goal is to provide livable-wage jobs once again back on that ramp in Seattle,” Gordon said. “We had 485 union positions on that ramp. This arbitration allows us to stake a claim back on that property.”

Many of the workers who lost their jobs in 2005 accepted an Alaska Air severance package, which Gordon acknowledged was “above and beyond the contracted requirements.” They have since scattered to jobs elsewhere.

Gordon declined to detail what a remedy might look like, but when asked if Alaska might have to oust the vendor, Menzies Aviation, he said: “It’s very possible.”

Alaska spokeswoman Caroline Boren said it would be “premature to start speculating on the remedy.”

Even though the ruling comes three years after outsourcing started, Gordon said it has relevance today as airlines across the U.S. scramble to cut labor costs further.

“It sends a strong message throughout an ailing industry,” said Gordon. “It’s absolutely huge for us and for all organized labor. … Today’s ruling solidifies the fact that there are job protections.”

Alaska’s contract with the union allowed the airline to outsource jobs to a vendor only if doing so reduced costs. The arbitrator ruled that despite the lower wages paid by Menzies, the overall charges were not less than the work done in-house.

Alaska employees who lost their jobs had been earning on average more than $20 an hour.

The contract offered to ramp workers by Menzies had a cap at $15 an hour, and starting wages were much lower.

Boren said the company disputes the arbitration finding. “Clearly in this extremely difficult industry environment, we wouldn’t continue to outsource if we believed it was costing us more than performing the work ourselves,” Boren said.

Herman Wacker, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of labor and employment law and associate general counsel, said in a statement that the airline’s “focus is on working with the union to determine if we can agree on a remedy.”

“Depending on the outcome, the company can appeal the ruling in federal court,” Wacker added.

After Menzies started working for Alaska at Sea-Tac in May 2005, there was a rash of accidents that damaged jets on the ground and poor performance that upset passengers waiting for bags.

In response, Menzies brought in consultants in January 2006 and shuffled its leadership on the ground at the airport. Boren said that review and overhaul fixed the problems and that Menzies’ performance is meeting all the airline’s goals.

She said the average time for bags to reach the luggage carousel after landing is down to 20 minutes. The incidence of both misplaced bags and ground mishaps is below the industry average, she said.

The airline contracts out its baggage handling at all airports except for those in the state of Alaska.

No timetable has been set to negotiate a remedy, but Boren said the company plans to start talks with the union as soon as possible.


source: Pacific Business News

Alaska Airlines changes mileage plan
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - by Ben Miller

Alaska Airlines is making changes to its mileage plan program beginning in November – changes that have irked frequent fliers.

The changes will make it harder to earn a free ticket on the Seattle-based airline, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group Inc. For example, the number of miles required for a free round trip is increasing from 20,000 miles to 25,000 on Nov. 1.

Alaska officials say the changes reflect the “current state of the industry” and increasing costs for fuel.

“When Alaska Airlines introduced its popular 20,000 mile ‘Saver’ award 13 years ago, we were paying less than $20 a barrel for crude oil. Last week oil touched $145 a barrel,” said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines vice president of marketing, sales and customer service, in a statement.

Alaska is also going to charge mileage plan members $25 for each award ticket booked on one of its partner airlines and it won’t provide any frequent flier miles for travelers using its “AS50” program, where a combination of miles and cash obtains a ticket.

Alaska Airlines flies to Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Flights to Kona on the Big Island will begin in November.


:smiling_imp: Since they’re screwing me double on the Mileage Plan, I don’t mind spoiling their news… :smiling_imp:

After this week Alaska will have an All Boeing 737 fleet. Here’s their tribute to Boeing returning from it’s test flight (Damn! it was here today and I missed it):

photo credit Drewski2112 on Flickr


I love that boeing paint scheme!


Do you know what the last MD80 flight will be?


Anyone know how much longer they will be holding on to their -400’s?


source: East Bay Business Times

Alaska Airlines prepares to retire the last MD-80 in its fleet
East Bay Business Times

Alaska Airlines is preparing to transition to an all Boeing 737 fleet next week, as it retires the last MD-80 airplanes in its fleet.

In a special ceremony next week, Alaska said its final MD-80 airplane, a 13-year-old model, will participate in a special ceremony with airline retirees, previous plane captains and invited guests, who will fly a special flight around Mount Rainier.

The final MD-80 flight will be Aug. 24 and later next week, the subsidiary of Alaska Air Group Inc. will take delivery of a new Boeing 737-800 that it’s calling the “Spirit of Seattle.”

In 2006, Alaska Airlines said it would speed up the transition to an all 737 fleet when they announced they’ll save $115 million per year in lower fuel, maintenance, training and crew scheduling costs with the all-Boeing 737 fleet.

Alaska and its sister airlines, Horizon Air, served some 1 million passengers at Oakland International Airport in 2007. Alaska also serves San Francisco International Airport.

I saw an Alaska 737 last week with the words “all Boeing fleet” (or something similar) just below the cockpit window.


I should probably head down to SEA and shoot a few mad dogs before they’re gone.


“You can’t hardly tell at first, not till they get to the point of slobbering and staggering around. When you see a critter in that fix, you know for sure. But you want to watch for others that ain’t that far along. Now, you take a bobcat or a fox. You know they’ll run if you give 'em the chance. But when one don’t run, or maybe makes fight at you, why, you shoot him and shoot him quick. After he’s bitten you, it’s too late.”


I think it’s on Sunday.


I meant if anyone knew what flight # or segment it was.


So, I got one of the last MD 80 rides last week. Nobody at Alaska mentioned it to me. :frowning:


On Sunday there is a special flight for former pilots, retirees and invited guests leaving from SEA for a loop around Mt. Rainier. FA shows several MD flights from SEA to California destinations on Sunday. Unknown if those are real or just generated from the schedule. They have 60 flights in the air right now, but none of those are MD’s.


I remember when this happened, we’d get all sorts of bags on our flights from SEA that had over-ridden SEA. Menzies also had their share of a/c strikes, not that it doesn’t happen at other companies as well.

I also happened to be in SEA in the yearly de-ice, anti ice train the trainer session when the word came down that several mx bases were going to be closed…I like AS, their people are a good bunch. I hope they are around for a lot of years.


A Page Turns…

Retirement of the MD80 Fleet at Alaska Airlines
as told firsthand by my* friend Capt. Jeff Johnston

*Robert A. Bogash, web master (NOT my friend - a friend of the Robert A. Bogash)


That’s sad. I wonder what will happen to these pilots? Will they be trained to fly a 737 or will Alaska find replacements or will they be cutting so they don’t need MD80 pilots?


More than likely they’ll train the pilots for the 737. I don’t think the union would allow them to just let all of the MD80 pilots go if there are slots available on the 737. Nor would that make economic sense.


Hopefully that is true.


This is bad: … lines_cuts