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One Airline Is Reducing Flights Due to COVID-19 Staffing Shortages

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Posted: Jan 07, 2022 4:00 PM
One Airline Is Reducing Flights Due to COVID-19 Staffing Shortages

Source: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

This week, a Gallup poll revealed that air travel hit a historic low in 2021, with only 38 percent of American adults saying that they traveled by air during the year. Those who made repeat trips via aircraft were less than one-fourth of Americans. As I reported, on New Year's Day, over 4,000 trips were canceled globally amid weather and COVID-19 staffing shortages. 

One airline, Alaska Airlines, announced this week that it would be reducing services due to staffing shortages because of the highly-contagious Omicron variant. This comes after the airline canceled over 150 flights during the holidays. 

In a statement released on Thursday, Alaska Airlines explained that it will reduce departures by 10 percent temporarily due to the impacts of the Omicron variant. 

“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. We are deeply grateful for how our incredible employees have pulled together to take care of our guests and each other,?operate safely and?make the best of a?very difficult?situation. To our guests, we apologize for the considerable inconvenience and are working hard to return to the level of service they know and expect from us.

We're at our?best when we are safe, reliable and caring.?And 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. We've decided to reduce departures by about 10% through the end of January. This will give us the flexibility and capacity needed to reset while continued flexible travel policies enable guests to adjust their plans accordingly. This will also give us time and space to find our path forward together, with Covid-19 as a continued reality in our business and our world.

We will learn from these challenges, improve where we must and deliver on our promise to deliver nonstop care each and every day.”

One week ago, Alaska Airlines published a statement announcing that 170 flights were canceled as "winter weather, displaced crew members and aircraft, and the continued impact of the omicron variant on staffing levels are converging." 

The company cut back departures from its Seattle hub by 20 percent and urged flyers with non-essential travel to reschedule their flights for a later date.