Alaska Airlines is cutting some of its November and December flights because of understaffing, suggesting it doesn’t expect the labor shortage to end any time soon

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."
  • Wichita Airport said Alaska Airlines was cutting some flights to Seattle "due to labor shortages."
  • The airline is cutting two flights from Wichita to Seattle each week in December.
  • It suggests that Alaska expects staffing problems to persist through the winter.

Alaska Airlines is cutting some of its flights between Wichita, Kansas, and Seattle, Washington, because it can't find enough staff.

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 Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport said in an update earlier in October.

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

"The reduction is due to labor shortages," the airport said, without elaborating. The news was first reported on by Wichita Business Journal. Alaksa Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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.

American and Spirit's cancellations were exacerbated by factors beyond just understaffing, and flights were canceled with little notice, but Alaska is cutting its services from from Wichita to Seattle in advance, suggesting that it expects staffing problems to persist.

Analysts and policymakers aren't sure when the labor market will recover. Chief financial officers at some of the UK's biggest companies told Deloitte that they expect the labor shortage to continue into 2023. UBS said in late July that it saw some signs that the labor shortage would end soon, but data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of workers quitting their jobs is continuing to soar.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs said it stuck by its forecast that the US unemployment rate would fall to 4.2% by the end of 2021 and 3.5% by the end of 2022 as more people return to work. Bank of America has also forecast the same figures.

The unemployment rate has been steadily declining after peaking at 14.8% in April 2020, when companies laid off staff due to the pandemic. In September it dropped to 4.8%.

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