FLUSHING, N.Y. (WPIX)—Hundreds of passengers were stranded beginning on Saturday at LaGuardia Airport after pilots went on strike against the discount carrier, Spirit Airlines. Now, the company has announced they are canceling flights through Tuesday, June 15.
The resulting cancellations are expected to impact thousands of travelers. Spirit flies from several airports on the eastern seaboard through Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to the Caribbean and Latin America.
The pilots walked off the job 5 a.m. Saturday over pay issues; they've been negotiating with the carrier for nearly four years, pointing out that their pay lags considerably behind AirTran and JetBlue pilots'. The Airline Pilots Association says it's clear what the rank and file needs.
"It's parity with our counterparts and work rules, work rules that are going to allow us to do our job(s) efficiently and spend time at home with our families when we're done, instead of being out on the road possibly six days at a time when it could be done with less," says First Officer Bill Coogan.
The president of Spirit Airlines issued the following statement: "We are frustrated and disappointed that our pilots have turned down an over 30 percent increase at a cost of over $70 million over five years while disrupting thousands of our customers and jeopardizing the livelihoods of our over 2,000 employees."
Meanwhile, frustrated passengers say the airline has been of little help.
"It's our vacation. His [my son's] vacation is ruined! Ruined!," said stranded passenger Matthew Kearns. He and his 7-year-old were counting down the days to their vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, only to find out at the ticket counter their flight was canceled.
"I really think there should have been some sort of e-mail, some sort of telephone call, something to let us know this might happen. This is completely inexcusable," an angry Kearns said.
The airline announced it youd give out $100 credita to affected passengers towards future flights. Spirit Airlines has about 440 pilots and carries 16,680 passengers daily.