Air Canada announced that it’s laying off employees and cutting its capacity in response the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Jan. 13 statement, the airline said that it’s adjusting its network under its COVID-19 plan by further reducing first-quarter system capacity by an additional 25 per cent. Air Canada says that because of capacity reductions, it will be laying off approximately 1,700 employees in addition to over 200 employees at its express carriers.
The airline says it’s working with its unions on mitigation programs.
“Since the implementation by the federal and provincial governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada, in a statement.
“While this is not the news we were hoping to announce this early into the year, we are nonetheless encouraged that Health Canada has already approved two vaccines and that the Government of Canada expects the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September. We look forward to seeing our business start to return to normal and to bringing back some of our more than 20,000 employees currently on furlough and layoff,” concluded Ms. Guillemette.
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Air Canada says capacity in the first quarter of 2021 will be about 20 per cent of what the airline operated in the first quarter of 2019. The airline also says it will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required.
Affected customers on all routes will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including refunds for eligible customers and alternative routings where available.