One hundred and twenty-three employees at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport are scheduled to be laid off in October. Another 19 employees at Fairbanks International Airport will be laid off at the same time. The majority are restaurant and service workers.
The corporation that staffs both airports, HMSHost, furloughed employees at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. According to a company spokesperson, while furloughed employees were unpaid, they retained their benefits and could use paid time off during furlough. The spokesperson said they intended to rehire the furloughed employees, but the hit to both the travel and hospitality industries during the pandemic has made that impossible.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel and restaurant industries and, unfortunately, HMSHost sits at the crossroads of both. Never in the history of aviation and the hospitality industry, have we experienced such catastrophic customer traffic declines,” HMSHost Director of Operations Noelle Spafford wrote to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Wednesday.
Starbucks, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, Norton Sound Seafood House and Alaska Doghaus are among the restaurants losing employees at the Anchorage airport. Furloughed employees are expected to be permanently laid off Oct. 15.