Alaska Air Group said Monday it is cutting flights for April and May further than announced just two weeks ago, as it “continues to experience demand that is 80% or more below normal levels.”
In a regulatory filing, the company said, “Today we are updating our capacity reduction plans to reflect 80% cuts in both April and May.”
The parent of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air added that for June and beyond, “given current trends and circumstances, it is our expectation that sizable cuts will be necessary for the coming months.”
Alaska Airlines, which in ordinary times operates the most flights out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in mid-March said it would trim flights by 10% to 15%. Then on March 25 it said it would shrink its capacity by about 70%.
The dramatic plunge in air travel has forced many carriers to cut their schedules to the bone.
On Friday, Alaska’s vice president of flight operations told pilots in an email that the previous day the airline carried 4,600 passengers on 297 flights — an average of just 15 people per flight — compared to 99,500 passengers on 780 flights on the same day a year ago.
As their business plummets, airlines have turned to the federal government for help in drumming up the cash they need to ride out the crisis.
Alaska said in the filing Monday that “in recent weeks we have moved quickly to dramatically reduce capacity, pull down costs, cull cash expenditures and access financing.” It added that it has cash and unrestricted investments of about $2 billion.
Nonetheless, the filing says Alaska Airlines, Horizon and the company’s ground services unit McGee Air Services have applied for payroll-support grants under the recently enacted federal bailout program known as the CARES Act.
“Given the uncertainty about when demand may bottom out and when a recovery may begin, the CARES Act payroll support grants will be critical as we weather the challenging months ahead,” the company said.
On Sunday, RavnAir, which provides connecting flights in Alaska to many small towns and is an Alaska Airlines code-share partner, announced it is ceasing operations and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in hopes of resuming business after the crisis is over. The company laid off its staff and parked its 72 airplanes.