Montreal-based tour operator Transat A.T. Inc. announced in a statement on March 23 that it will temporarily lay off roughly 70 per cent of its workforce as the travel industry continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 3,600 employees will be affected by the cost-cutting move, including all flight crew at Air Transat. Some of these cuts will be effective immediately, while others will take effect over the next month. Transat executives who are not being laid off have accepted voluntary pay cuts, as have members of its board of directors.
“In order to safeguard the company, we have unfortunately had to proceed with layoffs that affect a significant portion of our employees,” said Jean-Marc Eustache, president and CEO of Transat. “We are doing this with great sadness and we hope that everyone will be able to return to work as quickly as possible.”
Transat also confirmed it will proceed with a full flight schedule suspension, effective April 1 after the conclusion of its final repatriation flight. The company said that by March 22, roughly 40,000, or 60 per cent, of its Canadian customers had been returned home.
“In these circumstances, I want to pay the sincerest tribute to our flight crews, who have remained at their posts in stressful and difficult conditions, flying our aircraft sometimes without regard for their personal safety. I can never say enough to express our gratitude, and the same goes for our commercial and administrative personnel who, each in their own job, made extraordinary efforts to successfully complete this unprecedented operation,” concluded Eustache.
At the time of writing, there has been 350,457 cases of COVID-19 infection internationally, with roughly 1,470 in Canada alone.