Alaska Airlines is gearing up to furlough or lay off up to 4,200 of its employees after reporting major financial losses during the second quarter of 2020 due to a sharp reduction in travel due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a statement from the company, of the notices issued, 331 were given to Anchorage-based employees. This is roughly 26% of the Alaska Airlines employees in Anchorage.

“Reducing our workforce is one of the hardest realities of this crisis. We’re making tough decisions to right-size Alaska Airlines for future success, but it means we’re losing fantastic people,” the statement reads. “We were able to prevent involuntary pilot furloughs through a combination of voluntary leaves and early outs, which allow us to keep all of our pilots employed beyond Sept. 30, either as an active pilot or on a leave at a reduced rate of pay and with full health-care benefits.”

The statement noted that the warning notice is a “legal requirement” under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and doesn’t necessarily mean that an employee will be laid off or furloughed.

“Across Alaska Airlines, 4,200 employees may be furloughed or laid off beginning in October,” the statement reads. “This number does not represent our final workforce changes, as we expect the number of WARN notices we sent to be higher than the number of employees who are ultimately furloughed in the fall.”

The statement notes that the company will continue to “refine” its staffing model over the next several weeks and the numbers of those laid off and furloughed will be finalized closer to Oct. 1.

That date is the day after the federal government’s Payroll Support Program ends. The program was part of the CARES Act coronavirus relief bill and provided a total of $32 billion to compensate aviation industry workers during the pandemic in order to preserve jobs. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air received roughly $992 million in support from the program in April.


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