Alaska Airlines denies a labor shortage is behind it reducing flights to Seattle, disputing a claim by a Kansas airport

·2 min read
An Alaska Airlines airplane taking off against a blue sky with white clouds.
Wichita Airport said Alaska Airlines was cutting some services from the Kansas city to Seattle "due to labor shortages." Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • Wichita Airport said Alaska Airlines was cutting some flights to Seattle "due to labor shortages."

  • Alaska has denied this, and said the flight reductions were "standard seasonal operation changes."

  • The airline is operating two flights fewer from Wichita to Seattle each week in December.

Alaska Airlines is operating fewer flights between Wichita, Kansas, and Seattle, Washington, for November and December.

Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport said in an update earlier in October that this was "due to labor shortages," without elaborating - but Alaska denied the change was related to staffing in a statement to Insider.

"This is part of standard seasonal operation changes and is not a reflection on staffing changes," a spokesperson said.

The airline usually runs a flight from Wichita to Seattle every day, but it's cutting its Saturday flight in November and December as well as its Tuesday service in December, Wichita Airport said.

Alaska's website shows that direct flights from Wichita to Seattle aren't available on these days.

The news was first reported on by Wichita Business Journal.

Seattle is the only route Alaska operates from Wichita Airport, and Alaska is the only airline with direct flights between the two cities.

In August, just over 2,000 passengers flew from Wichita on Alaska flights.

The US is suffering from a labor shortage that's hitting industries ranging from education and healthcare to trucking and restaurants. Record numbers of Americans have been quitting their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Airlines laid off workers or put them on extended leave when the pandemic brought travel to a halt. Travel has rebounded with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and the reopening of travel corridors, and airlines have been scrambling to get enough pilots, flight attendants, and support staff to meet surging demand.

American Airlines canceled around 400 flights over a three-day period in June because of staffing shortages and maintenance issues. Spirit Airlines also canceled hundreds of flights in August due to a combination of bad weather, system outages, and staffing issues.

Both sets of cancellations were exacerbated by factors beyond just understaffing, and flights were canceled with little notice.

This article has been updated to include Alaska's response.

Do you work at Alaska Airlines? Got a story to share? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com. Always use a non-work email.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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