Air Canada has said that it has “no choice” but to temporarily lay-off over half of its flight attendants in a memo sent to employees yesterday afternoon and sighted by CBC News. The circular told staffers that the decision had been “difficult but necessary” in light of the massive slump in travel demand prompted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Around 3,600 Air Canada crew members will be made redundant, while approximately 1,550 flight attendants at subsidiary Air Canada Rouge are set to be temporarily laid off. Air Canada employs a total of approximately 10,000 flight attendants.
“In my time I’ve never seen layoffs like this,” said Wesley Lesosky of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “I’ve never actually been through a layoff personally at the airline to this extent, so this is quite extreme,” he continued.
Lesosky said the lay-offs will last until at least the end of April, although these are likely to be extended into May and perhaps even into June and July. Once the crisis has passed, Air Canada hopes to bring many of laid-off employees back online.
In the last few days, Air Canada said it would suspend the vast majority of its international flights, including to the United States. The airline hopes to maintain what it described as international “air bridges” between one or more of its Canadian hubs and the cities of London, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, Tokyo and Hong Kong between April 1 and at least April 30.
Yesterday, the carrier also revealed a series of in-flight service changes which will include the airline only offering pre-packaged food and water on all flights. Most blankets and pillows will also be removed. CUPE had previously criticised Air Canada for refusing to change the service routine before the airline reassessed its position.
TOTH One Mile at a Time
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.