(Black Press Media)

(Black Press Media)

WestJet lays off nearly 7,000 employees, cutting staff in half amid COVID-19 crisis

Calgary-based company the latest airline to be hit by layoffs

WestJet became the latest airline to lay off thousands of employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said it laid off 6,900 employees, with CEO Ed Sims saying 90 per cent of those leaving did so “voluntarily.”

That leaves the airline at 7,100 employees, a nearly 50-per cent drop from its usual 14,000. Sims said that took the company back to 2003 staffing levels.

Some of the layoffs, he said, are permanent, while the temporary ones will last at least three months. The news comes as Canada has closed its borders to non-essential travel to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, there are 372,757 cases worldwide and 16,231 deaths. Canada has seen at least 2,100 cases and 25 deaths.

According to WestJet, its executive team took a 50-per cent pay cut and the vice-presidents and directors took a 25-per cent cut.

The news comes days after other airlines announced sweeping layoffs, with Air Canada laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants and Transat AT Inc. temporarily laying off about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada, about 3,600 people.

– With files from The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Air Canada laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants

READ MORE: WestJet flight attendants anticipate sweeping layoffs due to COVID-19

READ MORE: Thousands laid off as airlines struggle with COVID-19 cancellations, travel bans


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Air TravelCoronavirusWestJet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BCCDC photo.
16 school exposures in Abbotsford schools in 2 weeks

Fraser Health’s list grows by 11 for 2nd week of 2021

Two people on a paddleboard take advantage of a calm Cultus Lake on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Forecast calls for lots of sun in Fraser Valley this coming week

Most of next seven days will be sunny for eastern Fraser Valley, according to Environment Canada

Ron Restrick lives with mild cognitive impairment, but has worked to stay active and engaged in his community.
Abbotsford residents invited to Alzheimer Society webinar

Session on Wednesday, Jan. 27 looks at dementia and long-term care

Abbotsford football star Chase Claypool has signed an endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan brand. (Air Jordan website)
Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool signs with Nike’s Jordan brand

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad joins exclusive group of top athletes wearing Jumpman

Two people were in a vehicle that rolled over on Highway No. 1 near Lickman Road. They are now out of the vehicle. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vehicle rolls over on Highway 1 near Lickman Road in Chilliwack

Two people in SUV at time of collision in westbound lanes

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read