Air Canada will lay off more than half of its 38,000 employees next month as it grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The layoffs, which will take place June 7, will affect a minimum of 19,000 staff and could go as high as 22,800.
The country’s largest airline — along with its competitors — has seen demand for air travel evaporate amid ongoing border shutdowns and confinement measures, prompting Air Canada to ground some 225 airplanes and slash flight capacity by 95 per cent.
The airline made a similar decision in March to let go of nearly half of its workforce under a cost reduction scheme, only to rehire some 16,500 laid-off flight attendants, mechanics and customer service agents in April under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy — a program it has not committed to participate in past June 6.
At a minimum, layoffs will reach 19,000 — half of the current payroll — and could go as high as 22,800.
A government source who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity said Ottawa hasn’t yet received notice about the layoffs from Air Canada, which would have to apply for a group termination waiver from the Labour Program to lay off that many people, but the request hasn’t been submitted yet.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees representing Air Canada flight attendants said the airline is set to ask employees to reduce their hours, go on leave for up to two years or resign with travel privileges, the Canadian Press reported.
The health crisis has brought a virtual halt in air travel, leading to an unprecedented number of flight cancellations globally and forcing airlines to book hefty losses.
CD eNEWS via Reuters. Additional Reporting based on The Star and CBC
Photo BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada / CC BY-SA