(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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

‘I just don’t get it’, Wash Me on Ludlow suffers thefts and abuse of services

Owner Michelle Nischi is concerned for her health and her business

Ladysmith businesses carry on in the time of COVID-19

Local businesses struggle to stay open and serve the public

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

Ongoing list of Ladysmith COVID-19 cancellations and closures

Everything in Ladysmith that has been impacted by COVID-19

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read