Approximately 500 airport workers are set to lose their jobs, following the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA)'s decision to slash its staff numbers by nearly one quarter.
Due to a drop in travel out of Toronto Pearson International Airport, the GTAA will reduce its workforce by 27 per cent, after passenger traffic dropped significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GTAA currently has 200 active job postings, but those will no longer be filled. Instead, those will be voided, and another 200 existing jobs will be eliminated, sometime between now (July 14th) and well into autumn.
A decrease in global air traffic
These job cuts reflect a significant decrease in global air traffic, with passenger numbers at Toronto Pearson currently at approximately 1996 operating levels.
In April 2020, the GTAA reported its passenger numbers were reduced by 97 per cent compared to the same period of 2019.
The workforce reductions follow numerous cost reduction measures the GTAA has implemented since the pandemic began, including a hiring freeze, reducing planned capital spending by $265M for 2020, and temporarily reducing executive and Board of Director salaries.
GTAA has also leveraged the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance programs, and provided deferrals for eligible corporate partners.
“Our leadership team and Board of Directors have worked concertedly each month to navigate these turbulent times and have put our people first. This reduction in force is a difficult but necessary step, and one that we take with great sadness,” said Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the GTAA. “The leadership team and I are deeply grateful for the contributions of our employees, each of whom has been part of the success and legacy of the GTAA. We are dedicated to treating everyone with the greatest respect and consideration throughout this process. We are committed to maintaining our operations and the health and safety of the airport as we evolve our organization to drive our recovery. I am confident that we have a capable and resilient team and the right approach to come through these challenging times with strength.”
Reductions start now
The reductions come into effect beginning today, with departures extending through fall 2020.
The GTAA is working closely with Unifor and the Pearson Airport Professional Fire Fighters Association to implement these changes for their members, respecting the terms and philosophy of the collective bargaining agreements. In addition to notice and severance packages, all employees will be offered career transition and employee assistance program support.
As previously reported on May 12, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic contraction has had, and is expected to continue to have, a negative impact on demand for air travel globally.
Toronto Pearson has experienced significant declines in passengers and flight activity, as a result of travel advisories and restrictions by governments, flight and route cancellations and fleet groundings by air carriers, and passenger and flight activities may not return to pre COVID-19 levels for at least three to five years according to certain industry participants.
Two members of GTAA's executive team depart
The reduced activity is having a significant negative impact on the GTAA’s business and results of operations, including aeronautical and commercial revenues and airport improvement fees.
The restructuring includes the departure of two members of the GTAA executive team: Kim Stangeby, vice-president and chief strategy officer and interim vice-president, human resources, and Scott Collier, vice-president, customer and terminal services.
Their portfolios will be redistributed across the organization, including under the newly established Chief Operating Officer, Craig Bradbrook (formerly Vice-President, Aviation Services), and in a new centre of commercial excellence led by Chief Financial Officer, Ian Clarke. The GTAA will also complete a search for a new Chief Human Resources Officer.
A slow summer
The month of July has been a quiet one at Toronto Pearson, to say the least.
Data supplied by the GTAA shows just 117 departures, and 126 arrivals (keep in mind that the majority of these are domestic, or repatriation flights).
Of these combined flights, 3.43 per cent were cancelled departures, and 10.32 per cent were cancelled arrivals.
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