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Transat A.T. Inc. plans to use the federal emergency wage subsidy to rehire 4,000 employees it had temporarily laid off after halting all flights because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transat says the employees, the vast majority of whom are flight attendants, will not be required to work as part of their recall.

The returning staff will receive 75 per cent of their baseline pay up to a maximum of $847 a week, as defined in federal legislation passed last week.

Transat chief executive Jean-Marc Eustache says laying of 80 per cent of his employees was a “necessary but heartbreaking decision,” adding that he hopes the announcement will provide some comfort.

On March 23, Transat announced it would lay off all 3,600 flight attendants as it suspended its entire Air Transat flight schedule, a move followed by 400 other furloughs.

The airline business has gone into a tailspin as closed borders and travel controls have cratered demand.

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