Aviation

Alaska Airlines cutting flights by 10% through January due to omicron-driven staff shortage

Citing a spike in the number of workers calling in sick with COVID-19, Alaska Airlines is reducing flights by 10% through the end of January.

“As we have entered 2022, the continued impacts of omicron have been disruptive in all our lives and unprecedented employee sick calls have impacted our ability to operate our airline reliably,” said Alaska Airlines external affairs manager Tim Thompson in a statement Thursday.

Thompson added that the majority of the impacted flights will be in the Lower 48, without significant changes to “our normal January flying to communities in Alaska.”

Over the holidays, unfavorable weather conditions coincided with rising case counts of the COVID-19 among airline staff, delaying and canceling an exceptionally large number of flights just as the volume of domestic travelers surged.

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“Right now, we need to build more reliability back into our operation as we deal with the impacts of omicron and during a time when guests generally fly less,” Thompson said, referring to the post-holiday winter months when air travel typically dips.

“This will give us the flexibility and capacity needed to reset while continued flexible travel policies enable guests to adjust their plans accordingly,” he said.

Though the cascading travel disruptions were felt nationwide, they were most acute along the West Coast, and in particular at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which serves as the main hub for Alaska-bound flights.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers the military, politics, drugs, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Prior to joining the paper he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.

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