Omicron surge prompts Alaska Airlines to trim January flight schedule

Alaska Airlines says the move will provide the 'flexibility and capacity needed to reset'

Alaska Airlines is cutting its flight schedule by 10% through the end of January as an "unprecedented" number of employees become infected with the coronavirus and are forced to call off from work.

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"As we have entered 2022, the continued impacts of omicron have been disruptive in all our lives, and unprecedented employee sick calls have impacted our ability to operate our airline reliably," an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. 

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The industry has been struggling in recent weeks due to a high number of employees calling off sick with COVID-19 or getting in close contact with someone who has the virus. 

Alaska Airlines says the move to trim its schedule will give the airline the "flexibility and capacity needed to reset while continued flexible travel policies enable guests to adjust their plans accordingly." 

Alaska's move comes just after JetBlue Airways made a similar decision to cut about 1,300 flights through mid-January.  

Alaka Airlines jet

A Boeing Co. 737-9 aircraft during a Boeing Co. ecoDemonstrator program tour at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., July 28, 2021.  (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

JetBlue said it's trying to give customers more time to make alternate plans rather than deal with last-minute cancellations.  

OVER 1,200 FLIGHTS CANCELED DUE TO BAD WEATHER, COVID-RELATED STAFFING ISSUES

With so many staff members calling off, airlines have had to scrap droves of flights during the busiest time for the industry. 

U.S. cancellations began rising Christmas Eve. On Monday, though, cancellations peaked with about one in every eight flights being canceled. 

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Besides cutting flights, some major carriers have started offering temporary bonuses to pilots and flight attendants who pick up extra flights left empty by co-workers with COVID-19. 

For instance, United is offering triple-time pay for pilots that pick up a trip during January. 

Additionally, Spirit Airlines is offering its flight attendants double pay for working through Jan. 4 amid virus-related staffing shortages, according to Reuters

The Associated Press contributed to this report.