Story at a glance

  • Alaska Airlines announced it would be cutting its flight schedule by 10 percent through the month of January.
  • The airline cited the current surge of COVID-19 infections as the reason for the reduced schedule, as more and more employees call out sick.
  • Just last week, Alaska Airlines cancelled 170 flights and expects more cancellations and delays.

As the omicron variant shakes up plans for the new year, one airline announced it would be cutting its schedule by 10 percent because of so many employees calling out sick. 

Alaska Airlines announced on Thursday the omicron variant had disrupted the company’s operations so much so it decided to reduce departures by about 10 percent through the end of January. The airline said the reduction will give it more flexibility and capacity needed to reset and figure out a path forward with COVID-19. 

Just a week earlier, Alaska Airlines announced it had cancelled 170 flights across its network due to winter weather and displaced crew members and more cancellations and delays were expected.  

"We deeply apologize for the inconvenience this winter storm has on our guests and employees and are working hard to return to the level of service you know and expect from us, while operating safely," said Constance von Muehlen, Alaska Airlines CEO and executive vice president, in a statement. 


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According to ABC News, Alaska Airlines had cancelled 120 flights on Thursday, accounting for 17 percent of its schedule. Southwest Airlines fared slightly worse, cancelling over 575 flights on Thursday, about 19 percent of its schedule.  

A surge in COVID-19 cases along with a bout of winter storms has impacted the airline industry across the board, with more than 1,800 U.S. flights getting cancelled and more than 4,400 worldwide were grounded on Sunday, according to NBC News 

The airline industry has struggled to cope with the pandemic, as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics noted that about 16 percent of all flights were delayed in 2021, while in 2020 only 9 percent were delayed. Cancellations were down last year though, with only about 2 percent of all flights getting cancelled. 

As the omicron variant surges across the U.S. and much of the world along with various travel restrictions, airlines will be tasked with managing flights during a pandemic for a second year in a row. 


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Published on Jan 07, 2022