Alaska Air (ALK) Arm Trims January Schedule Amid Omicron Woes
Alaska Air Group (ALK) unit Alaska Airlines plans to cut January flights by roughly 10% due to a spike in coronavirus cases among its staff.
Per a Reuters report, Alaska Airlines, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Alaska Air Group ALK reduced its flight schedule nearly 10% through January 2022 to combat the omicron-induced staffing shortage crisis.
With employees falling sick due to this highly transmissible COVID-19 variant, Alaska Airlines’ operations took a massive hit and was compelled to take the decision on reducing flight departures. Citing its concerns, management said, "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".
In fact, Alaska Airlines is not the sole carrier to have been laid low by this unprecedented crisis. Omicron-induced staff crunch and weather woes have also prompted the U.S. carriers to call off multiple flights since the Christmas Eve, thus hampering travel plans of many passengers.
In response to this crisis, JetBlue Airways JBLU had announced a decision last month similar to Alaska Air. JBLU expects to trim its schedule by about 1,280 flights through Jan 13, 2022, as an increasing number of its staff contracted the COVID-19 infection.
Per a Reuters report, a JBLU spokesperson, while justifying the decision had said, "We expect the number of COVID cases in the northeast – where most of our crew members are based – to continue to surge for the next week or two. This means there is a high likelihood of additional cancellations until case counts start to come down."
With the Omicron-induced labor crunch likely to continue hurting airline operations at least in the near term, we expect other airlines to make announcements similar to Alaska Airlines and JetBlue in the coming days.
Zacks Rank & Key Picks
Alaska Air currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
Below we present a few better-ranked stockswithin the broader Transportation sector:
ArcBest Corporation ARCB currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). ARCB has a stellar surprise history. Its earnings outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average being 27.4%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Shares of ArcBest have surged more than 100% in a year’s time. Improving freight conditions in the United States bode well for ARCB. Solid customer demand and higher market rates are supporting growth at ARCB.
Schneider National SNDR carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. SNDR’s earnings outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average being 21%.
Shares of Schneider National have rallied more than 18% in a year’s time. SNDR gets a boost from its strong Intermodal and Logistics units. The Intermodal segment is benefiting from yield management and expanded volumes. The Logistics unit is thriving on the back of favorable market conditions and other factors.
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