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Alaska News

Alaska Airlines suspends flights to smoke-choked Portland and other cities

  • Author: The Oregonian
  • Updated: September 15
  • Published September 15

The Portland Old Town sign is seen under heavy smoke from the wildfires creating an orange glow, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Lindsay Whitehurst)

Alaska Airlines has suspended all flights in and out of Portland until at least Tuesday afternoon as wildfire smoke inundates the region.

It’s also shutting down operations in Spokane, Eugene, Medford, Redmond, Pasco and Walla Walla.

“Across the West, fires are creating thick smoke and haze, causing very poor air quality conditions in the Portland and Spokane areas,” Alaska said in a statement Monday. “We made the difficult decision to stop our operation so that our employees and guests can remain safe.”

Alaska said early Tuesday afternoon that it would resume some operations in Portland and Spokane at 3 p.m. Pacific time.

“The 24-hour suspension of flights allowed us time to implement a new safety protocol that directs our employees to work a reduced number of hours outside when there’s poor air quality,” the airline said in a blog update.

Alaska is the busiest airline serving Portland. It wasn’t immediately clear if other airlines will take similar steps. The airline said the decision affected “dozens of flights.”

“Improving weather conditions in the coming days could begin to dissipate smoke in Portland and Spokane,” Alaska said. “However, other airports in the West could be impacted by drifting smoke.”