WestJet announces 3,000 layoffs; 1,700 pilots included in COVID-19 workforce Reduction


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Muskoka Post Staff

WestJet Airlines announced today that it will have to lay off 3,000 employees and cancel more than 4,000 weekly domestic flights next month. WestJet plans to cancel around 18,000 trips from its schedule between May 5 and June 4.


Among those who will find themselves on the unemployment line will be 1,700 pilots. According to aviation experts that is three-quarters of the cockpit roster, as the company struggles with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With less than five per cent of our pre-COVID-19 guest loads, work is simply not currently available,” said WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims, in a statement.


Airline pilot, lawyer and author James Ball is concerned that airline lays offs will present a challenge for the industry post the pandemic.


”While many industries beyond aviation are being hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis, the expensive and time consuming nature of air crew training will cause extremely unique challenges for airlines in Canada. It’s one thing to lay off staff, it’s another to have to almost completely retrain and re-certify thousands of pilots prior to being able to provide safe, reliable transportation to the Canadian public when this is over,“ he said.


In addition to hundreds of pilots already taking a temporary voluntary leave of absence, it has been reported that many have also agreed to a pretty significant salary reduction in April.

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