WestJet has confirmed that 1,700 of its pilots across WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop have received layoff notifications, effective either May 1st or June 1st, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 global crisis that is shutting borders around the world.
With the Government of Canada calling for a freeze on any travel deemed non-essential, the airline says it’s seen a dramatic reduction in flying that has led to the grounding of almost three-quarters of the WestJet fleet.
“Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet, however, 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,” Lauren Stewart, media spokesperson at WestJet, told PAX. “These actions will play a crucial part in WestJet’s ability to recover quickly and participate in Canada’s economic recovery.”
WestJet is participating in the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program and as such, WestJet says that these pilots will be placed on an inactive status and will remain on the WestJet payroll for the period of time that this program is in effect.
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