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Nearly 800 Fiji Airways Staff Laid Off Including Every Single Flight Attendant and All Expat Pilots

Nearly 800 Fiji Airways Staff Laid Off Including Every Single Flight Attendant and All Expat Pilots

Fiji Airways has sacked 53 per cent of its entire workforce as part of what it described as “necessary and unavoidable” measures that were needed to survive the COVID-19 crisis. Staffers claim they have been given just 48-hours to return all company property and clear out their personal belongings from company buildings. The entire 400 strong flight attendant workforce is amongst the 775 redundancies announced today by the airline.

“This is a very difficult announcement and one we are only making after exhausting all other options,” explained Andre Viljoen, the airline’s chief executive. “The sad reality of prolonged flight suspensions means that we simply do not have work for a large segment of our workforce now, and for the foreseeable future.”

Photo Credit: Airbus

The national airline of Fiji has suspended all international operations until the end of June at the earliest because of the ongoing Corona crisis. Once operations do eventually restart, the airline expects to operate a dramatically reduced service for at least several months. In normal times, Fiji Airways would serve 23 cities across 13 countries.

“We have no other option but to terminate the employment of staff to whom we cannot provide work, which is an unfortunate but vital step we must take in order to protect our cash position and to preserve as many jobs as possible for those staff who the business needs in order to function today,” Viljoen continued.

Some cabin crew said they first learned about their employment being terminated when security guards arrived to escort them out of a classroom where they were taking part in annual training.

The redundancies were made with immediate effect according to the termination letter sent to employees and staff will receive just four weeks pay in lieu. Gordon Penfold, the airline’s head of shared services said past employment would be taken into account if laid-off workers wanted to reapply for jobs once the situation improves.

Along with 400 flight attendants, all 79 foreign expat pilots have lost their jobs and eight expats in executive positions have also been made redundant.

Employees who still have a job will take a permanent 20 per cent pay cut and in the short term will only work 2-5 days a week. Wages will only be earned on hours worked. Workers had already agreed to a temporary 30-35 per cent pay cut since April.

Describing the measures cost-cutting measures as “painful and difficult”, Viljoen continued: “We have taken these difficult actions now, in order to safeguard our airline’s future. Many large and respected airlines around the world are collapsing as a consequence of this unprecedented crisis.”

The airline said it had retained staff in operational roles who possessed critical skills, training and experience. Selection criteria for retaining staff in other roles included performance, disciplinary record and aptitude for the role.