WestJet says it will lay off 1,700 pilots

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | April 16, 2020

Estimated reading time 1 minute, 39 seconds.

WestJet sent notice to 1,700 pilots on April 15 informing them they will be laid off as the airline’s operations have been dramatically scaled back due to COVID-19.

Galen Burrows Photo
The announced layoffs will affect pilots from mainline WestJet, along with subsidiaries WestJet Encore and Swoop. Galen Burrows Photo

According to reports, the Calgary-based carrier said layoffs will affect pilots from mainline WestJet, along with subsidiaries WestJet Encore and Swoop, and will take effect on either May 1 or June 1.

The layoffs will be done in “reverse seniority” order according to the airline, meaning pilots who were hired most recently will be the first affected.

“Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet; however, the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry is colossal, and WestJet is making difficult but necessary decisions to right-size our airline to weather the crisis. These actions will play a crucial part in WestJet’s ability to recover quickly and participate in Canada’s economic recovery,” WestJet said in a statement to several media outlets on April 15.

In March, as the crisis was developing, the airline said it would be laying off roughly 6,900 employees to combat the financial repercussions felt due to the current pandemic. Just last week though, WestJet announced it would use the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program to rehire 6,400 of those workers.

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