Air Canada Cuts Service and Leaves 1,500 More Layoffs

The ax is falling once again in the airline industry as restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are tightened. Air Canada is cutting its service again, which will lead to at least 1,500 new layoffs among its union members.

As of February 18, the airline will suspend, at least until April 30, 17 routes from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Eight routes to the United States are affected, as well as nine more internationally – including to London, Tokyo, Bogota and So Paulo.

Managers on forced leave

An unknown number of managers will also find themselves on forced leave. “We are further reducing our transborder and international business hours due to the impact of COVID-19,” Air Canada said in a statement Tuesday.

This other wave of layoffs at Air Canada – which cut 20,000 positions last spring – comes following the Trudeau government’s latest tightening of the screw on international travel. Mandatory hotel quarantines for passengers arriving in the country will be mandatory.

Ottawa added another layer on Tuesday, announcing that as of February 15, travelers returning to Canada by land will have to show a negative test result for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours.

Air Canada did not provide further details, such as the categories of union members and the breakdown of the number of employees by province, who will be affected by this further downsizing. “Air Canada will contact customers whose bookings are affected to offer them various options, including alternative routes,” the company said, without mentioning refunds.

Airlines have been negotiating for months over sector aid with the Trudeau government, which demands an intervention be accompanied by reimbursements to travelers whose flights have been canceled since the onset of the health crisis. Wesley Lesosky, who chairs the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), attributed the further downsizing to the latest restrictions.

Air Canada will contact customers whose bookings are affected to provide them with various options, including alternative routes

In an email, he once again recalled that Ottawa was taking too long to come to the aid of the industry. “We welcome the need to take action to prevent the spread of variants of the novel coronavirus,” Lesosky said. But the restrictions must be accompanied by solutions. ”

Air Transat and WestJet

Service cuts, accompanied by layoffs, were announced by Air Canada, WestJet and Transat AT in the wake of Ottawa’s imposition of new COVID-19 screening rules last month . The largest airline in the country had sent more than 1,700 people on forced leave, in addition to slowing the pace of its activities by 25% due to a drop in reservations.

Since agreeing to suspend flights to sun destinations until April 30 at Ottawa’s request, carriers have curtailed operations. Air Transat will be at a standstill, as WestJet announced further layoffs last week. Air Canada also decided to indefinitely suspend all activities of its low-cost subsidiary Rouge, which resulted in 80 layoffs.

Since the start of the year, Air Transat has sent approximately 450 layoff notifications, according to the company.