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Seattle based Alaska Airlines to furlough 532 employees as federal aid begins to runout

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 at LAX by MLWA 7 News

- Sea-Tac, WA

Seattle based Alaska Airlines is furloughing 532 of their employees as federal aid begins to run out and air travel still well below the daily average.

Alaska’s cuts include 299 flight attendants, the airline said.

“I think there’s a lot of anxiety, people are trying to figure out what they’re going to do, people are looking to see if there are other jobs, but at this point, there are no other jobs, it's pretty bleak for the country as a whole,” said Beverly Bullock, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, speaking on behalf of her union, AFA Alaska.

Alaska said the 532 forced furloughs, out of a workforce of roughly 23,000, are a smaller number than it expected. There are 720 employees who volunteered for early retirement or early outs, and another 4,468 who took voluntary leave, the airline said. Alaska was able to save some positions. No pilots, maintenance technicians, or dispatchers have been furloughed, Alaska said.

King 5 News from Seattle reported that airlines made last-minute appeals to Congress and the Trump administration to avert furloughs when a federal prohibition on layoffs - a condition of an earlier round of federal aid - expires Thursday.

The passenger airlines and their labor unions are lobbying for taxpayer money to pay workers for six more months, through next March. Their request is tied up in stalled negotiations over a larger pandemic-relief measure.

“We should be getting this done and it should’ve been done yesterday,” Bullock said.

American Airlines said it will begin furloughing 19,000 workers on Thursday.

King 5 also reported that if Washington D.C. reaches a working aid deal over the next few days, the airlines said it could bring those employees back to work.

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