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CNN Today

Alaska Airlines Flight 261: Lost Fellow Employees, Family Members 'Makes it Doubly Tragic for Us,' Says Company Spokesman

Aired February 1, 2000 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Alaska Airlines says it has increased staffing in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to assist the families of passengers. It also is flying many family members to Los Angeles so they can be closer to the search site.

Many of the passengers were airline employees and their guests traveling during this off-peak period at reduced rates. A spokesman says the impact of the crash at company headquarters in Seattle has been brutal.

Joining us now from company headquarters in Seattle, CNN's Patty Davis -- Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mood here very somber at Alaska Airlines headquarters in SeaTac, Washington. As you said, Jack Evans had called it "brutal," in fact, the crash, the impact on all the passengers' families as well as the employees who were on board.

We're joined now by Jack Evens, spokesman for Alaska Airlines. How many employees and friends and families of employees were there? It sounds like a bit -- a big amount.

JACK EVANS, ALASKA AIRLINES SPOKESMAN: That's true. There were a total of 32 what we call non-revenue passengers aboard the aircraft. That means that they were either employees or friends and family of employee who were traveling on special passes that allow them to fly on standby on board aircraft, and that's what really makes it doubly tragic for us.

DAVIS: Right. What are you doing for the passengers' families, for the employees' families now to try to help them through this very difficult time?

EVANS: Well, what we're doing is we've dispatched about 600 members of our care team, which consists of employees who've had special training to deal with a situation like this, as much as you can prepare for it. And they have been dispatched to different locations throughout our route system, not only to provide support to friends and family but also to our employees who also many of whom knew some of these people on board the aircraft.

DAVIS: Right, a lot of people here at -- a lot of people here at headquarters knew people who were on board that aircraft because there were so many family and friends and employees there as well. So, how are they handling it?

EVANS: Well, the mood certainly is somber here. There are some people that are very diligently going about their work, trying to take calls from media and from friends and family that are calling in and trying to get arrangements made for family members, and there are other people that clearly are in shock by this, you know. They're in tears and it's just -- it's a really, really bad scene here.

DAVIS: All right, thanks, Jack Evans, spokesman for Alaska Airlines.

Now, Alaska Airlines is flying family into Los Angeles, into San Francisco as well, saying that providing housing for those families to deal with until their loved ones can be found, as well as even credit cards so that those families have some money to spend while they're there in Los Angeles and other cities -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Patty Davis in Seattle.

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