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A plane takes off as Alaska Airlines jets sit at their gates at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this 2018 file photo.

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Alaska Airlines plans to reduce its flight schedule for April and May by approximately 70%, it said Wednesday.

The company cited the “historic and unprecedented falloff in demand related to the COVID-19 outbreak across the U.S. and beyond.”

The Seattle-based airline, part of Alaska Air Group, said its schedules for June and beyond will be based on demand, “but it is our expectation that reductions will be substantial for at least the next several months.”

The company said that, like other airlines, Alaska is currently seeing passenger demand slashed more than 80%.

CEO Brad Tilden said that “given the lack of demand for air travel and profound impact on the financial management of our business, hard work and aggressive control of costs and cash are required, even with additional (government) support.”

“These actions are unprecedented, but these are truly unprecedented times,” he said. “Alaska has been here for 88 years … It is imperative that we act swiftly and courageously to ensure that we’re here to continue our mission in the future.”

“We are and will be under severe financial pressure for the foreseeable future and that is why these actions are essential” Tilden added.

These new schedule reductions are considerably sharper than the immediate cuts the company outlined to pilots earlier this week.

An internal message on Sunday told pilots the company would be cutting 200 flights from its typical 1,300-flight schedule for the rest of March, and would park 30 of its roughly 230 jets until further notice.

As part of its effort to conserve cash, the company said its president and CEO will reduce their pay to zero, and other executives will see their pay cut by 20 to 50%. The company board will also take no pay.

And Tilden said Alaska has worked actively with the White House, The Treasury Department, and Congress on the $50 billion aid package for passenger airlines currently being pushed through the Senate.

“As we more fully understand the impact of these provisions, we will add to our plans to manage through this change,” said Tilden.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

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