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Alaska Airlines furloughs more than 500 employees nationwide amid pandemic

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: October 1, 2020
  • Published October 1, 2020

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet lands at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Alaska Airlines announced Thursday it put 532 employees nationwide on “involuntary furlough” following reduced operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, after Congress failed to extend a pandemic-aid feature under the CARES Act.

The company said in a statement that 720 employees volunteered for early outs or early retirements. Another 4,468 took voluntary leave or another a reduced furlough option.

The company employs about 23,000 people.

No pilots, maintenance technicians or dispatchers have been furloughed at this time, the company said.

An Alaska Airlines official on Thursday declined to say how many lost jobs are being lost in Alaska.

“We’re not breaking down the numbers by region,” said Tim Thompson, a spokesman with Alaska Airlines.

Late this summer, Alaska Airlines announced that more than 4,000 employees could be furloughed or laid off in October, including 331 potential cuts in Alaska.

Congress' inability to extend the Payroll Support Program in the CARES Act led to the reductions, the statement said.

“Our business has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement said. “We’re disappointed the Payroll Support Program was not extended before the October 1 expiration date. Unfortunately, this means 532 employees at Alaska Airlines will be involuntary furloughed starting today."

The program has provided payroll support to airlines during the pandemic.