WestJet to lay off 6,900 employees due to COVID-19 pandemic

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | March 24, 2020

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 3 seconds.

WestJet has announced its latest measures to combat the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis will include 6,900 layoffs, 90 per cent of which are being done voluntarily.

WestJet Photo
90 per cent of the employees being laid off are doing so voluntarily according to WestJet. WestJet Photo

The Canadian carrier will be close to halving its employee count as it was home to 14,000 workers before the announcement.

“Today, 6,900 WestJetters are receiving notices confirming early retirements, early outs and both voluntary and involuntary leaves,” said Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO. “This is devastating news for all WestJetters. The fact that we avoided a potentially worse outcome is testament to the spirit and selfless attitude demonstrated by our people, who have enabled WestJet to continue operating with a collective remaining workforce of 7,100.”

Last week, WestJet asked its workers to “support the survival of the airline by selecting one of a number of options including unpaid leave of absence, early retirement, voluntary resignation (early out), reduced work week or reduced pay.”

“It is through these WestJetters’ sacrifices that we can preserve a core of people who will remain employed to prepare for the moment when the situation stabilizes, and we can look to rise again,” Sims said in the latest statement.

The layoffs come after a week of bad news in Canadian aviation. A number of carriers have had to suspend or cease operations after Canada closed its borders to combat the spread of COVID-19, with many of those announcing mass layoffs of their own.

Here is a message from Ed Sims on WestJet’s latest development:

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