(Black Press Media)

WestJet lays off nearly 7,000 employees, cutting staff in half amid COVID-19 crisis

Calgary-based company the latest airline to be hit by layoffs

WestJet became the latest airline to lay off thousands of employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said it laid off 6,900 employees, with CEO Ed Sims saying 90 per cent of those leaving did so “voluntarily.”

That leaves the airline at 7,100 employees, a nearly 50-per cent drop from its usual 14,000. Sims said that took the company back to 2003 staffing levels.

Some of the layoffs, he said, are permanent, while the temporary ones will last at least three months. The news comes as Canada has closed its borders to non-essential travel to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, there are 372,757 cases worldwide and 16,231 deaths. Canada has seen at least 2,100 cases and 25 deaths.

According to WestJet, its executive team took a 50-per cent pay cut and the vice-presidents and directors took a 25-per cent cut.

The news comes days after other airlines announced sweeping layoffs, with Air Canada laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants and Transat AT Inc. temporarily laying off about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada, about 3,600 people.

– With files from The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Air Canada laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants

READ MORE: WestJet flight attendants anticipate sweeping layoffs due to COVID-19

READ MORE: Thousands laid off as airlines struggle with COVID-19 cancellations, travel bans


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Air TravelCoronavirusWestJet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Art sessions coming to Keremeos park

Four art programs will be offered in Pine Park From late June through July

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Additional Penticton washrooms open in time for weekend

Washrooms at Riverside, Skaha Lake Park, Okanagan Lake Park, more, now open

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read