September 13, 2008 in City

Alaska Airlines to cut jobs, flight capacity

As many as 1,000 workers could lose positions
Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – Alaska Airlines said Friday it will cut capacity by 8 percent this winter and slash up to 1,000 jobs, as high fuel costs and a weak economy provide a “one-two punch” to the carrier’s bottom line.

The job cuts represent about 9 percent to 10 percent of the airline’s 10,000 employees.

The 850 to 1,000 positions on the chopping block include pilots, flight attendants and aircraft technicians, as well as reservations, customer service and ramp agents.

The carrier, a unit of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc., says the capacity reductions will start on Nov. 9 and continue throughout next year.

Alaska Airlines plans to cancel low-demand flights on Saturdays and holidays, reduce flights by about one roundtrip flight a day on major routes and end seasonal service on three Mexico routes.

In total, the capacity cuts will reduce the airline’s flights by about 15 percent.

Alaska Airlines says the moves were needed because of “the one-two punch of record oil prices and a softening economy, on top of increased competition.”

The company said it has taken steps to offset record costs, including increasing fees and adding charges, reducing fuel consumption and deferring capital projects.

“These steps, when combined with the recently completed transition to an all-Boeing 737 fleet, improve our viability, but are not enough to eliminate the need to reduce the number of our employees,” said Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer.

Shares of Alaska Air Group fell 58 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $23.19 Friday.

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