(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

RCMP confirm man dead in Chilliwack shooting incident

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network provides info for local businesses

Local retailers and restaurants are eager to get back to business in a way that’s safe.

Chilliwack mayor urges locals to shop local as stores open doors

Restaurants and retail are among the businesses allowed to re-open as B.C. heads into phase two.

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read