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Air Canada to layoff 15,000 staff due to coronavirus: internal memo

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 9:51 pm MDT


The company said the pandemic has been "devastating" for the business

Air Canada said they will be 'closed for business' for most of the quarter

The company's CEO and other executives will not be taking a salary during this time

Air Canada will move ahead with plans to layoff 15,000 staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company made the announcement in a memo obtained by CityNews.

“Other than returning the remaining Canadians home and continuing a skeleton operation, we will be essentially ‘closed for business’ for most of the quarter,” said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, executive vice president, chief human resources and communications officer.

The memo also said they are also putting one-third of their management, head office and administrative staff on a temporary two-month furlough.

Meloul-Wechsler said the pandemic has been devastating for the business.

“To put it in financial terms, last year, we generated approximately $4.7 billion of revenues in the second quarter,” Meloul-Wechsler said. “This year, as we enter the second quarter, we literally have no visibility on revenues for the quarter.”

She said the measures are needed to preserve company cash and that the staff reductions “are in no way a reflection of performance.”

In addition to the workplace reductions and furloughs, company CEO Calin Rovinescu, deputy CEO and CFO Mike Rousseau will not be taking a salary, she said.

“These are unprecedented times that require difficult decisions, all with a view to ensuring we emerge from this crisis poised to re-build this company that we all are invested in and love,” she added.

The union representing Air Canada flight attendants said they “deeply regret that hundreds of its members are among the layoffs announced today at the airline.”

“Our members have been through so much in the past few months as a result of COVID-19, and to see so many lose their jobs because of it is nothing short of heartbreaking,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The union said that since March 19, 6,800 flight attendants will now have been laid off by the airline.

The president of the union that represents aircraft maintenance workers, ramp, baggage, cargo, load planning, customer service agents and aircraft groomers at Pearson International Airport said he understands this was a necessary measure given the pandemic situation.

“However, it does not change that this will leave our members (who have been sent home) in a very difficult financial position,” said Dave Flowers, local president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “We can only hope that this won’t extend too long, and our members can return safely to work.”