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Alaska Air slashes 70% of its flight schedule for April, May

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet prepares to depart from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, March 23, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Alaska Airlines will reduce its April and May flight schedules by 70% due to a “historic and unprecedented” collapse in air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the company said Wednesday afternoon.

The changes are “to conserve cash,” the company said in a statement.

Alaska Air has seen an 80% reduction in demand due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and public health recommendations, the company said.

CEO Brad Tilden said, “Alaska’s goal, since the onset of this outbreak, has been to keep our employees and guests safe and healthy, and to ensure that our airline is here to support and serve them in the future. But we also know that given the lack of demand for air travel and profound impact on the financial management of our business, hard work and aggressive control of costs and cash are required, even with additional support.”

The Seattle-based company said its schedules from June on “will be based on demand” but the reductions are expected to be “substantial at least for the next several months.”

The airline is also cutting executive pay, asking employees to take voluntary furloughs and drawing down $400 million on its credit line. The company said it secured another $425 million loan Wednesday.

It is not yet clear how the massive reduction in flights will impact Alaska, a major market for the airline.