WestJet’s flight attendants are anticipating extensive layoffs - possibly more than 50 per cent - as the carrier looks to reduce capacity amidst dropping demand following the declaration of the novel coronavirus as a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week.
The Canadian Press reported that while just days ago, a 12 per cent capacity reduction was being considered by the carrier, the U.S. ban on Europe flights and subsequent influx of flight cancellations following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic will likely result in a more extensive reduction, according to Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE Local 4070 – the union which represents cabin crew members for WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop. –
In a letter to members, Rauenbusch stated that the union will continue to meet with WestJet’s executive team as they put together their final plan for capacity reductions over the next week.
“Over the course of the next 7 days, as our WestJet Executive Leadership puts together the final plan for the necessary capacity reductions, myself and CUPE 4070 Vice-President Jamie Loiselle will be in Calgary and continually available to work with WestJet as plans materialize,” Rauenbusch said. “We will continue discussions related to the initial offer of voluntary leaves, retirement and other ideas to help mitigate involuntary layoffs. If all other options have been exhausted, discussion of involuntary layoffs will involve CUPE every step of the way. Jamie and I will be in constant discussions with the full CUPE 4070 Executive as this situation continues to unfold.”
On Tuesday, WestJet CEO Ed Sims said that the airline will look at reducing capacity, as well as undertaking cost-cutting measures such as a hiring freeze and the offering of voluntary leave options.
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