Airline WestJet will temporarily lay off or cut the hours of 1,000 of its employees after deciding to cut flights in February and March on several of its routes.
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In a statement, the Western Canadian company said Friday it has no choice but to make these tough decisions due to “variable demand” and “instability” that “continue to weigh on on it because of restrictions and travel advisories issued by the federal government ”.
One of the ways WestJet will do this is through a combination of temporary layoffs, unpaid leave and reduced hours. A hiring freeze will also be decreed.
About 30% of flights scheduled for February and March will be canceled, which, according to WestJet, is down 80% year over year. For international flights, the decrease compared to last year will reach 93%, or five daily flights against 100 in normal times. Some 160 domestic flights will ultimately be cut from the schedule.
Eleven routes are suspended, affecting Western Canada, as well as 13 international or transfer destinations.
“Immediately after the announcement by the federal government on December 31 regarding on-arrival testing, and with the 14-day quarantine continued, we saw a significant reduction in new bookings and a number of cancellations without previous, ”said Ed Sims, President and CEO of WestJet.
“The travel industry and its customers are once again victims of a government policy that lacks consistency and consistency,” he added. Over the past 10 months, we have advocated for a coordinated testing regime on Canadian soil. But this hasty new measure is causing unnecessary stress and confusion for Canadian travelers and could make travel unaffordable, impossible and inaccessible for Canadians in the coming years. ”
“Unfortunately, this new policy leaves us with no choice but to lay off a large number of our employees again, while reducing the pay of those who remain,” said Sims. This is a cruel result for our loyal and dedicated staff who have worked diligently to fight the pandemic. ”