MIAMI – Alaska Airlines (AS) expects to have more routes canceled and more aircraft grounded after it announced last week a halt of 200 flights per day, according to its Vice President of Flights Operations, Capt. John Ladner.
On Sunday, Ladner sent an email to the carrier’s staff saying that the company is considering cutting operative flights and parking 30 planes of its 230 total aircraft, according to The Seattle Times.
As the drop in passenger demand rises, other US airlines are considering suspending further passenger services than the previous announced. Today, an average of 1,900 flights have been reported as canceled.
Routes and fleet affected
Following the non-essential travel guideline by the US government, Ladner said in the message that the company is evaluating full suspension of Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico services, and a reduction in Hawaii ones.
Ladner told pilots that he was working alongside the pilot union and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on agreements to use leaves as measures to reduce staff reductions. Airlines already offer voluntary unpaid leaves and have halted services to mitigate the labor impact.
Regarding aircraft, Ladner said that 30 Airbus and Boeing aircraft will be parked at airports in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Greensboro, and North Carolina.
Previously, AS Chief Operating Officer, Gary Beck, said that non-essential travels were not allowed, sending employees an internal message announcing new logistics to fly under the shadow of the coronavirus.
Directives to those crew members who were traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area counties were to shelter in hotels without flying back to their homes, even flights that were almost empty.
As spaces and equipment used for training were disinfected, the airline asked pilots to show up for their regular training updates in company flight simulators.
Reasons to keep flying during the COVID-19 crisis
Even as some AS workers tested positive for the virus, Lardner regarded that the company is following in a strict manner the Centers for Disease Control guidance and privacy rules to ensure those who were or could have been in close contact with any contagious elements are notified and adhere to formal protocols.
“Keeping this lifeline functioning is essential. Alaska must maintain a strong presence to keep our company viable,” added Lardner, as AS also provides service for aid workers, government officials, military personnel, business leaders, groceries, medical suppliers, and community items sellers.