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Alaska Air Group in need of pilots for Horizon flights

My Alaska Airlines direct flights in November and December were cancelled a few days ago. I was told that the direct flights are being "reevaluated" and might come back in the spring. Can you confirm or elaborate?

— Ron R., via email

Unlike thousands of Ryanair passengers, at least you got advance notice that your flights were cancelled, presumably giving you an opportunity to rebook, Ron.

Alaska Air Group has been hit hard by a pilot shortage, and Medford has been among the airports bearing the brunt of flight and route cancellations.

After discontinuing the daily Medford-Los Angeles flights, Alaska's Horizon flights were restored — at least momentarily.

We are suspending our once daily flight between Los Angeles International and Medford indefinitely due to lack of pilots and low demand," Alaska spokesperson Bobbie Egan said.

Alaska still offers nine daily departures to Seattle and Portland.

"Affected guests have been offered a refund or will be rebooked on another carrier," she said.

Alaska executives have made it clear in recent statements they will be scrambling to find and train pilots well into 2018.

Alaska Airlines CEO Bradley D. Tilden told stock analysts the company will have to become aggressive in its hiring.

"We've got to be fantastic recruiters," Tilden said. "We got to be great at going out and recruiting and bringing pilots in, but we also have to be great at knowing what the pilot capacity is going to be, and I think we fell short there, candidly."

Dave Campbell, Horizon Air's CEO, said protracted contract negotiations kept the company from hiring earlier this year.

"It took us about nine months to get our deal with the pilots," Campbell told analysts. "We now have a competitive contract in place that will allow us to actually hire pilots. By the time we get to the end of December, we should be caught back up on pilot hiring, we should be caught back up on the backlog and training. So, I have a lot of confidence that this is a good reset for us and we will be back up operating here early January."

Only time will tell, Ron.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.