Air Canada to lay off up to 60% employees amid pandemic

Air Canada to lay off up to 60% employees amid pandemic

Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, plans to lay off at least 20,000 employees, or about half its workforce, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Air Canada said the cuts affect more than half of the company’s 38,000 employees.

The airline said the pandemic has forced it to reduce scheduled flights by 95% and it doesn’t expect normal traffic to return anytime soon. The downsizing will reduce the airline’s workforce by 50% to 60%, the report said.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said it is in the final process of negotiating mitigation and other matters with Air Canada and has no further comment at this time.

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The union, which represents 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.

Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu has called this the darkest period ever in the history of commercial aviation, significantly worse than 9/11 terror attacks and the 2008 financial crisis.

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The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to all non essential travel. The airline has grounded more than 200 aircraft, cutting service internationally to just five airports.

Air Canada said it lost $1.05 billion Canadian (US$ 748 million) in its first quarter, compared with a profit of $345 million in the same period of 2019 as governments imposed travel restrictions around the world due to the pandemic.

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