Air Canada lays off more than 5,000 flight attendants amid COVID-19 pandemic

MONTREAL — Air Canada is laying off more than 5,100 flight attendants as the country’s largest airline cuts routes and parks planes due to COVID-19, a union official says.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the carrier is laying off about 3,600 mainline employees and all of Air Canada Rouge’s 1,549 flight attendants.

The layoffs, effective immediately, will last at least through April, CUPE said. They will impact more than half of the airline’s 9,750 flight attendants.

Air Canada said the layoffs are temporary and employees will return to active duty when the airline is able to ramp up its flight capacity.

On Wednesday, the Montreal-based company said it will suspend the majority of its international and U.S. flights by March 31.

The airline’s stock has plummeted 76 per cent in two months, dropping steeply in the past two weeks as borders close and flight demand plunges.

“This has been the most challenging time any of us will likely ever experience as flight attendants,” Wesley Lesosky, who heads CUPE’s Air Canada component, said in a statement.

“Our members have been on the front lines of this crisis since Day 1, and it has been a tough journey ever since. Our hearts go out to all of our members, especially those who fell sick while doing their job.”

Union members facing layoffs or “off-duty status,” will be able to collect employment insurance and access benefits, CUPE said.

Air Canada said it does not have a final tally on the total number of pilots, flight attendants, technical and cargo workers and customer service agents affected.

“In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 global crisis and Air Canada’s significantly reduced network, Air Canada has initiated discussions with its unions to begin placing employees on temporary, off-duty status,” the airline said in an email Thursday night.

Until that point, the company payroll numbered 27,830 unionized workers, including the laid-off flight attendants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Red Deerians don’t want the public safety risks posed by early prisoner releases, says Mayor Veer

City officials sent protest letters to Alberta’s public safety minister

Premier Kenney predicts 25 per cent unemployment in Alberta due to COVID-19

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has a grim prediction for workers… Continue reading

Post-COVID economic development strategy planned

Economic development organizations and post-secondary institutions join forces on strategy

No visitors allowed unless resident is dying: Alberta issues province-wide ban on visitors to long-term care centres

Residents of all continuing care sites are at extreme risk if exposed to COVID-19

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

We’re all in this together, says the City of Red Deer

‘While most city facilities are closed, we want you to know that we are still here’

Lacombe seamstress sewing non-medical masks for the community

Busy Beaver Sewing Co. in Lacombe making two-layered cotton masks

Blackfalds COVID-19 update: All Community Events Cancelled until June 1, 2020

Town of Blackfalds’ priority continues to be to inform our community and employees

For Trump, virus is about trade

Pandemics don’t come with detailed instruction manuals for government. But Canada does… Continue reading

David Marsden: Hospital parking should always be free

If you need to visit a patient at a hospital or other… Continue reading

Most Read