United Airlines is shuttering its pilot base at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Though the closure isn’t official until March, Wednesday is the last day when the 39 United pilots at the base will be scheduled to start or end their trips out of Seattle.
The move parallels the closure of United’s flight-attendant base at Sea-Tac, due to be final by the end of this month.
United continues to fly out of Seattle, but it has reduced its presence over the past year as Delta and Alaska Airlines have expanded.
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Airline pilots are scheduled to begin and end each of their flying rotations at their home base.
For example, a pilot based in Seattle might start a domestic flying stint with a flight to San Francisco and from there hop around the nation to the East Coast and back, ending some days later with a flight back to Seattle.
The closing of the Seattle base means those 39 pilots must either move to another base or commute to start their flying shifts.
“All the pilots will have the opportunity to transfer to other United bases,” said airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy, adding, “It’s not uncommon for flight crews to commute.”
The offices and rest areas at Sea-Tac used by the United pilots and flight attendants will close.
United’s passenger traffic at the airport has been severely cut back. A year ago, the airline canceled its sole transpacific nonstop from Seattle to Tokyo, ceding the route to Delta and to its Star Alliance partner airline, All Nippon Airways of Japan.
A United pilot who asked not to be named said management told the pilots it was losing $2 million a month on that route. McCarthy couldn’t be reached late Tuesday to comment on that detail.
Dropping the Seattle-Tokyo route meant the end of United 777 flights out of Sea-Tac and the closing of the 777 base. What’s closing now is the remaining base for 767 and 757 pilots.
“It makes sense based on the amount of flying we do out of Seattle” said McCarthy.
United retains about 35 flights out of Sea-Tac daily, she said. The airline has a long-term lease on a building at the airport used for airplane maintenance.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or email@example.com