WestJet today announced that in light of its further reduced operations, the airline will increase its current inactive workforce by a further 3,000 people come early May.
Said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO, “The reality of this crisis continues to require WestJet to make mission-critical decisions to ensure the sustainability of our airline. With less than five per cent of our pre-COVID-19 guest loads, work is simply not currently available. These decisions, while difficult, are being thoughtfully and methodically made so that we can weather this crisis and be ready for a future where we can provide inactive WestJetters with fulfilling employment once again.”
Continued Sims, “WestJet is very appreciative of the Government of Canada’s programs to assist us and other organizations in navigating this pandemic. Therefore, while work is not available and where it is of benefit to our WestJetters, we will utilize the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program to retain our people on our payroll and to ensure they remain connected to the company. We continue to work with our employee and labour groups on ways to maintain employment through the crisis.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, to mitigate the impact on its workforce, WestJet implemented immediate cost-cutting measures including releasing more than 80 per cent of outside contractors, instituting a hiring freeze, stopping all non-essential travel and training, suspending any internal role movements and salary adjustments, cutting executive, vice-president and director salaries, pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects and asking suppliers for a reduction or delay in payments.
WestJet is actively engaged with all levels of government in a shared commitment to minimizing impacts of this crisis and continues to press upon government the depth of the impact.