Alaska Airlines may cut over 300 Alaska employees this fall due to COVID-19

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 1:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Airlines filed a notice with the state on Friday announcing layoffs coming this fall to 331 employees. These permanent layoffs will go into effect on October 1, according to the company’s WARN filing. The layoffs will go into effect just one day after the government’s Payroll Support Program (PSP) ends.

Alaska Airlines released a statement Tuesday saying, “Reducing our workforce is one of the hardest realities of this crisis. We’re making tough decisions to right-size Alaska Airlines for future success, but it means we’re losing fantastic people.”

The more than 300 people possibly being laid off make up about 26% of the company’s employees in Anchorage and includes customer service agents, flight attendants, and maintenance technicians.

In total, Alaska Airlines says 4,200 employees across its operations may be furloughed or laid off beginning in October.

Pilots are not on the chopping block as Alaska Airlines says it was able to prevent involuntary active pilot furloughs through a combination of voluntary leaves and early outs, which allowed the company to keep all of its pilots beyond September 30, 2020.

In Anchorage, 135 flight attendants are expected to be laid off, 77 ramp service employees, 66 customer service agents, and 18 aircraft technicians are just a handful of jobs being impacted. Alaska Airlines said it sent out more layoffs notices than it expects to actually go through with, because of the legally-required WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) process.

Alaska Airlines says it will continue to “refine (its) staffing modeling over the next several weeks and expect figures to be finalized closer to October 1.”

Airline spokespeople confirmed that the 4,200 company wide possible layoffs could impact other airports in Alaska, but they did not clarify how many or which ones.

This is a bad time to be losing jobs according to Anchorage Economic Development Corporation president, Bill Popp, who explained that what’s bad for Alaska Airlines is bad for Ted Stevens. That means it’s bad for Anchorage and the rest of the state.

“The Anchorage International Airport generates about 1 out of 10 jobs - conservatively - in our economy,” Popp said, “when you look at it at a direct, indirect, and induced point of view. And those jobs stretch from Anchorage to the Matanuska - Susitna borough. So, you know this is not good news for the airport.”

Not only would losing jobs at the main contributor of passenger travel at Ted Stevens bad, but Popp and Alaska Travelgram publisher, Scott McMurren said it could result in more expensive flights in the future. Popp said if it’s more expensive to travel to Alaska, it would be more expensive to do business with the Lower 48.

McMurren said he sees this as a move to save money and stay afloat. As all the airlines continue to struggle, he said they’re trying to save money in anyway they can so they can keep flying folks in the long run.

“They want to get to the point where they’re at least having some equilibrium between money coming in and money going out,” McMurren said, “they have access to billions of dollars in cash and credit. So they have that, but being good stewards of their resources, they know that they can’t go on burning cash.”

Alaska Airlines spokespeople clarified that the 4,200 announced layoffs and furlough notices are not a final count of how many are losing their jobs, it is just the highest possibility.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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