Photo: The Canadian press
WestJet Airlines Ltd. has announced that it will lay off 1,700 pilots as the company continues to fight the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline pilots union said 700 workers received layoff notices as of May 1, and another 1,000 started on June 1, according to seniority.
The layoffs come amid a continuing collapse in world travel triggered by border closings and a demand for supplies, with WestJet and Air Canada reducing the vast majority of their flights until April and May.
WestJet calls the impact “colossal” and says the layoffs are a “last resort” that are part of broader cost-cutting measures.
A week ago, the Calgary-based company announced that it will bring back nearly 6,400 laid-off workers to its payroll through Ottawa’s emergency wage subsidy program.
The previous layoffs did not affect the pilots, who had signed a memorandum of understanding to stay on board until April. WestJet says the 1,700 pilots who have been laid off will be placed on inactive status and will be able to access the federal wage subsidy.
The holidays are at the main service of the carriers, WestJet Encore and its economic subsidiary Swoop.