As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transat A.T. Inc. has temporarily laid off about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada, the company announced Monday (March 23rd).
The final Air Transat flight prior to the full suspension of its operations is scheduled for April 1st.
The news comes after Transat announced the gradual temporary halting of all its flights until April 30th.
Operations are being stopped gradually in order to enable Transat to repatriate as many of its customers as possible to their home countries, the company stated.
As of March 18th, some 65,000 Canadian Transat customers were in sun or Europe destinations. By March 22nd, about 40,000, or more than 60 per cent of them, had been returned to Canada.
At the same time, Transat has been forced to proceed with layoffs affecting about 70 per cent of its staff, representing 3,600 employees.
Some of these layoffs are effective immediately, while others will take effect following advance notice of up to one month.
They include all flight crew personnel.
Similar measures are being implemented in the other countries where Transat has employees. Executives who are not being laid off have accepted voluntary pay cuts, as have members of the Board of Directors.
“We are very much in agreement with the measures being taken to fight the spread of the virus and protect the public’s health. As a community, we have to do what is necessary to stop the pandemic,” Transat President and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Eustache stated in a release.
Mr. Eustache added that the measures in place "have forced us to totally suspend our operations."
"We have done this in such a way that none of our customers are stuck far from home, and we are in the process of bringing them back," he said. "We expect to have finished doing this by April 1st, and we will then totally halt our flights. At the same time, in order to safeguard the company, we have unfortunately had to proceed with layoffs that affect a significant portion of our employees. We are doing this with great sadness and we hope that everyone will be able to return to work as quickly as possible.”
Mr. Eustache commended the flight crews who have remained at their posts in "stressful and difficult conditions."
"I can never say enough to express our gratitude, and the same goes for our commercial and administrative personnel who, each in their own job, made extraordinary efforts to successfully complete this unprecedented operation," he said.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!