Today, WestJet announced organizational changes that will see the company consolidate call centre activity in Alberta, contract out airport operations in all domestic airports outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and strategically restructure its office and management staff. The moves are aimed at streamlining WestJet for a competitive future following the COVID-19 crisis.
“Throughout the course of the biggest crisis in the history of aviation, WestJet has made many difficult, but essential, decisions to future-proof our business,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Today’s announcement regarding these strategic but unavoidable changes will allow us to provide security to our remaining 10,000 WestJetters, and to carry on the work of transforming our business. WestJet will once again serve the needs of Canadian travellers with low fares and award-winning service levels tomorrow and years from now.”
Overall, 3,333 employees across the country will be affected. As WestJet works to select new airport service partners, the airline will seek out preferential employment opportunities for as many of the airport roles as possible.
The COVID-19 crisis hit WestJet and the global aviation industry with devastating force. Since the beginning of March, guest traffic has dropped in response to virus fears and travel advisories that halted almost all but essential travel. To mitigate the impact on its workforce, WestJet implemented immediate cost-cutting measures including releasing a majority 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 and pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects.
WestJet has continued to operate service to all 38 year-round domestic airports during the pandemic to ensure essential lifelines for travel and cargo remained open but overall, the airline’s scheduled operations have been reduced by more than 90 per cent year over year.