Pilot shortage at Horizon Air leads to lawsuit, cancelled flights

In what has been an ugly couple months for Horizon Air, the regional subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, has just gotten a bit worse.

The union that represents the around 800 pilots flying for Horizon Air recently filed a lawsuit against the regional carrier to make sure it does not reassign the Embraer E175 aircraft for which it has delayed delivery.

The recent pilot shortage and chaos within the airline has led to the deferral of many aircraft that were scheduled to enter the fleet, with Horizon Air CEO David Campbell saying that three jets scheduled for delivery in the next two months have already been deferred, but promises that by the end of 2018 the airline will have all 23 E175 jets it had on order, including those that were recently deferred.

As a result of the recent issues at Horizon, SkyWest has brought back some of their CRJ-700, CRJ-200, and E175 aircraft to cover the slack on some key regional routes, like Portland-Seattle, Seattle-Spokane, and Portland-Spokane.

Currently, the small subsidiary is doing nothing but cutting flights and reducing frequencies on many others, with Colorado Springs being the first complete casualty.

The airline announced this week that service to Colorado Springs, CO will be cancelled from November 4th of this year after serving the airport since November 2013. The most surprising part of the cut is that the airline was selling 83% of it’s seats on the route, and the amount of passengers on the flight had increased 5.6% from a year ago, according to air traffic reports. The Seattle Times reported that the airline has had to cut its’ schedule by over 6% in recent months, after over 300 flights were cancelled in the month of July.

In an OAG report filed Sunday, troubles for the airline are increasingly apparent. Flights from Portland to Dallas, Omaha, and Pasco were reduced and flights from Portland to Kansas City and St. Louis were cut, Los Angeles to Medford was cut, Seattle to Colorado Springs was cut, Seattle to Great Falls was reduced, and a great amount of other flights around the system have been cancelled more often than not in recent months.

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