Some airline executives are being forced to work on the front lines as passengers return to airports in record numbers while airlines continue to face a staffing crunch.
Alaska Airlines is reportedly one of them.
|ALK||ALASKA AIR GROUP, INC.||59.32||-1.24||-2.05%|
Last Friday, ahead of the July Fourth holiday weekend, the major U.S. carrier called on managers and back-office personnel to help with sorting passenger baggage at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to The Seattle Times.
Representatives for Alaska Airlines did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment. The Port of Seattle, which runs the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, directed requests for comment to the airline.
However, officials reportedly asked for help to fill in the "gaps in some frontline areas" through August, according to the outlet, citing a memo from Brooke Vatheuer, Alaska’s vice president of strategic performance at its Seattle hub.
Those gaps are "putting strains on the operation," according to the memo.
As a result, management employees are expected "to sign up for five full shifts," the memo continued.
To help, the employees spent hours enduring computer-based training and on-the-job training, according to the outlet.
One executive, Andy Schneider, who is Alaska’s senior vice president responsible for the carrier’s employees, reportedly helped grab bags off the conveyor belts beneath one of the terminals.
The news comes as airlines scramble to handle the sudden rush of passengers that have regained confidence in flying once again – especially around the holiday weekend.
On July 2, over 2.1 million people were screened at airport checkpoints nationwide, marking the highest throughput since the start of the pandemic, according to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.
Despite ramping up operations to meet the recent surge in demand for travel over the peak summer season, carriers continue to face unprecedented weather at their largest hubs, ultimately disrupting operations and creating a handful of delays and cancelations.
Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs at Airlines for America, an industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, said in a statement that although its members are "grateful" for the payroll support program which helped keep the heavily battered industry afloat, there is still a "number of employees on the sidelines for a while."
"They've got to be retrained and we've got to make sure that we've got the numbers matched to the demand as it comes back on. And so, yes, I mean, we're working hard on that and all of our members are," Young said.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act – created the Payroll Support Program in March 2020 for air carriers and certain contractors. It provided financial assistance "to over 600 companies, supporting hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs," according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.