Air Canada Announces It’s Cutting 1,700 Jobs In Response To Pandemic

Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, announced today that is will be cutting 1,700 jobs. The cuts are a result of adjustments the airline is making to its “COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan” by reducing its capacity by an additional 25 per cent. The airline states that “As a result of these system-wide changes, there will be a workforce reduction of approximately 1700 employees, in addition to the over 200 impacted employees at its Express carriers. The airline is working with its unions on mitigation programs.” In the news release, Air Canada says that the 25% reduction in capacity is due to new pre-departure testing requirements, provincial lockdowns and travel restrictions.

“Since the implementation by the Federal and Provincial Governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

“While this is not the news we were hoping to announce this early into the year, we are nonetheless encouraged that Health Canada has already approved two vaccines and that the Government of Canada expects the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September. We look forward to seeing our business start to return to normal and to bringing back some of our more than 20,000 employees currently on furlough and layoff,” concluded Ms. Guillemette.

Recently Air Canada has also made cuts to many routes, including suspending all of its flights until further notice in Prince Rupert, B.C., Kamloops, B.C., Gander, N.L., Goose Bay, N.L., Yellowknife, N.W.T, and Fredericton, N.B.

WestJet, Canada’s second largest airline, is also experiencing layoffs and route suspensions. Last week, WestJet announced cuts to its schedule, blaming the Canadian government’s ongoing travel restrictions, including its recent decision to require negative coronavirus tests from all international travelers entering the country. The press release noted that “…the airline continues to face volatile demand and instability in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions.” WestJet laid off 1,000 employees.  

“Immediately following the federal government’s inbound testing announcement on December 31, and with the continuation of the 14-day quarantine, we saw significant reductions in new bookings and unprecedented cancellations,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “The entire travel industry and its customers are again on the receiving end of incoherent and inconsistent government policy. We have advocated over the past 10 months for a coordinated testing regime on Canadian soil, but this hasty new measure is causing Canadian travellers unnecessary stress and confusion and may make travel unaffordable, unfeasible and inaccessible for Canadians for years to come.” 

“Regrettably, this new policy leaves us with no other option but to again place a large number of our employees on leave, while impacting the pay of others,” continued Sims. “This is a cruel outcome for loyal and hardworking staff who have been diligently working through the pandemic.”

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