Alaska Airlines to Involuntarily Furlough 7,000 – WARN Letters Issued August 1

On a call with investors Alaska Airlines indicated that its facing furloughs of as many as 7,000 workers in October. That number does not include pilots as they have reached an agreement with the carrier that will prevent the need for furloughs and layoffs when government payroll support ends later this year.

Alaska Airlines reported a significant loss of $214 million over the second quarter of 2020, the largest loss the airline has suffered in their history. Of course, management stressed that its comparable with the wider industry, and better than some competitors during the start of the pandemic.

On the call with investors where the financials were released, airline CEO Brad Tilden said:

“This global health plan dynamic an industry devastation is economic devastation is worse than anything we’ve been through before … I’m very confident that we’re taking the right steps to get us through the crisis and to ensure our long-term success

With that said, Alaska is planning for capacity to be down 35% in the fourth quarter.  The airline estimated that around 7,000 of the 23,000 strong workforce could be furloughed, although it says it is aiming to minimize the number of involuntary furloughs as far as possible. Around 30% of the workforce is already on some sort of voluntary leave of absence.

However, the airline will send out WARN notices to potentially impacted workers on August 1st.

“Our employees did nothing to cause or contribute to the economic environment that has led us to make these challenging decisions. They’ve given everything they’ve got to push Alaska and Horizon forward. These two facts make these decisions incredibly difficult.”

“Our crews and workers have continued to provide our guests with remarkable care … changing policies have introduced a great deal of complexity to our operation, and our people have handled this complexity with poise and grace, educating our guests about the in airport and on board policy changes and providing them the best and safest experience possible.”

Management shared there would be 2500 “excess employees” in Inflight in October and that there are 1200 “volunteers to date” in Inflight. Therefore roughly 2,500 flight attendants will receive WARN notices. That number of 2500 is inclusive of a buffer above the actual number of potential involuntary furloughs in order to assure the Company is in compliance with the WARN Act.

Alaska is also reducing its management positions by 300 people, around 15% of the current workforce. These come on top of a reduction of around 200 which had already been put in place.

They haven’t released information as to how many Customer Service/Airport employees would be affected.

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