Alaska Air resumes flights to Portland after implementing new wildfire smoke protocol

Alaska Airlines began flying in and out of Portland on Tuesday afternoon, a day after service was suspended due to wildfire smoke. The airline continued to operate short-term, however, canceling at least 20 afternoon and evening flights via PDX.

Alaska said in a statement on its website on Tuesday, “The 24-hour suspension of flights has given us time to implement a new safety protocol that instructs our employees to work fewer hours of hours outside of poor air quality gives.”

Oregon was filled with wildfire smoke for several days following an unprecedented eruption of more than 1 million acres of forest burned last week. Alaska Air said it collaborates with medical professionals at the University of Washington to develop procedures to keep workers safe.

Construction companies and several other Oregon businesses stopped work on the road Monday amid air quality conditions. Air quality across the region remained alarming on Tuesday, only marginally, and forecasters said the worsening conditions would continue until the weekend.

Alaska said on Monday, “Our staff exposure during their shifts will be limited due to lower than unhealthy levels.” “To help keep them safe, they will have access to personal protective equipment, such as the N95 mask.”

Alaska and its sister airline, Horizon Air, are the busiest carriers in PDX. They suspended service in Spokane on Monday and canceled several flights through Eugene, Medford, Redmond, Pasco and Walla Wall because of wildfires.

The online flight tracker at Portland International Airport shows that other airlines have not taken the same steps, although all are running short on account of the coronovirus epidemic.

– Mike Roseway | [email protected] | Twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699