WestJet says it’s laying off 1,700 pilots due to coronavirus crisis

WestJet has sent layoff notices to 1,700 of its pilots Wednesday night as the toll from worldwide travel restrictions amid the coronavirus crisis continues to worsen, the airline confirms.

An email sent to all pilots from WestJet’s vice-president of flight operations John Aaron, which was obtained by Global News, says 700 pilots for WestJet, WestJet Encore and its budget subsidiary Swoop will be laid off effective May 1.

The remaining 1,000 pilots will be off the job as of June 1.

The email says the layoffs will be determined based on “reverse seniority” — meaning the most recently hired 1,700 pilots will affected.

WestJet confirmed the layoff plans in a statement, saying the move was a “last resort.”

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“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,” a spokesperson said.

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The airline said pilots laid off on May 1 will remain on the payroll through the federal wage subsidy program,


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