(CALGARY HERALD) – One week after WestJet announced intentions to use the coming federal wage subsidy to hire back 6,400 furloughed workers, the Calgary-based airline is laying off 1,700 pilots.
In an internal memo, vice-president of flight operations John Aaron said the layoffs will be rolled out in two stages: 700 effective May 1, and 1,000 effective June 1.
The layoff notices, emailed Wednesday evening, were handed out in reverse seniority order, and impact 1,307 pilots at WestJet and Swoop, and 393 at Encore.
The remaining 569 pilots, the memo reads, will be distributed between airports in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton and Edmonton, depending on what model of aircraft they fly.
Calling the move a “last resort,” WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart confirmed the layoffs, explaining the move was in response to the cancellation of cross-border transportation due to coronavirus.
“Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet,” she said.
“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.”
The pilots impacted by the May layoffs will remain on the company payroll as ‘inactive’ until the federal wage subsidy ends, Stewart said, which according to the legislation is in early June.