WestJet announces plans to cut almost half of its staff

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 27, 2020

WestJet announced that 6,900 of its staff would be leaving the organization - with 90% doing so voluntarily - in response to the decrease in business and cost-cutting measures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada's second biggest airline, WestJet, said Tuesday nearly half its employees are leaving the company amid the pandemic as it seeks to survive until things stabilize.

WestJet has cut its workforce in half as 6,900 people received notices today confirming early retirement, early outs, and both voluntary and involuntary leaves.

Prior to Tuesday's announcement, the airline said it had 14,000 employees.

"This is devastating news for all WestJetters".

President and CEO Ed Sims says the fact the airline avoided a potentially worse outcome is a testament to the spirit and selfless attitude demonstrated by employees. "It is through this selfishness that we can preserve a core of people to prepare for the moment when the situation finally stabilizes and we will look to rise again".

WestJet is the latest major company to announce layoffs due to COVID-19.

The airline's executive team took a 50 per cent pay cut, while vice-presidents and directors have taken a 25 per cent pay cut.

WestJet, along with other airlines, have cut the number of global flights in recent days, operating mostly repatriation and domestic flights for Canadians.

WestJet said it has also been working closely with its unions and employee associations who have collaborated to help achieve the necessary levels of voluntary leaves and salary cuts. Last week Air Canada announced over 5,000 workers would be out of a job due to the impact of the coronavirus.

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