Thursday, 16 April 2020

The Canadian dream turns sour as 1700 pilot jobs to go at WestJet....

According to an internal memo seen by news outlets including Reuters, the Canadian airline WestJet will be announcing the lay off more around 1,700 flight deck crew over the next two months.

WestJet will lay off 700 pilots effective May 1 and the remaining 1,000 on June 1 the memo warns as the airline struggles to cope with mounting losses after the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19.

“We continue to negotiate with the company to protect our members’ interests while preserving as many pilot positions as possible,” said pilot union Air Line Pilots Association.

WestJet has earlier confirmed that that 6,900 of its employees would leave the company, with 90% departing voluntarily. WestJet was Canada’s second-biggest carrier, with around 14,000 employees before the announcement.  It comes just one week after the airline spoke of its intention to use a forthcoming federal wage subsidy to redeploy 6,400 furloughed workers.

The notices were harshly emailed out on Wednesday evening in reverse seniority order and will effect 393 pilots at Encore, whilst  1,307 pilots at WestJet are losing their jobs.  According to the memo, the remainder of pilots could find themselves moved to new locations as they will be spread between the hubs of  Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Toronto and Vancouver. 

Local media quotes a WestJet spokesperson as saying "Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet, The impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry is colossal, and WestJet is making difficult but necessary decisions to right-size our airline to weather the crisis."

The last few years have been a turbulent time for the carrier, it had been hit hard by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft as well having the added expense of getting bigger aircraft and starting its international transatlantic operations.  Increased competition on some routes and a resurgence in the popularity of national carrier and main rival  - Air Canada have all impacted WestJet.   

There are also unconfirmed reports from local media that there will be more job losses to come as the carrier is considering merging its WestJet Encore and Swoop into the main WestJet operation. 

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