Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline's facilities in Calgary, in this file photo from May 7, 2019.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

WestJet Airlines Ltd. has announced a series of job cuts and head office changes it says are aimed at ensuring the Calgary-based carrier can compete when the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

WestJet said on Wednesday 3,333 employees will permanently lose their jobs as the airline contracts out all domestic airport operations outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, restructures its management and consolidates its call centre in Alberta.

WestJet made the announcement as it throws its weight behind lobbying efforts to loosen government-imposed travel restrictions and two-week quarantine rules businesses say are holding back the travel and tourism sector’s recovery. The Canada-U.S. border closing to non-essential travel has been extended until July 21, and many provinces have travel bans and self-isolation rules, measures health officials say are needed to limit COVID-19 deaths and illnesses.

Story continues below advertisement

Ed Sims, WestJet’s chief executive, said the airline has slashed costs by 60 per cent but faces a long recovery owing to the uncertain outlook for the demand and viability of air travel.

“The damage we have incurred from a weakened demand environment is being compounded by multiple factors, including a patchwork of provincial and federal travel advisories [and] constraints on non-essential travel, globally and even domestically,” Mr. Sims said in a video statement posted on the internet.

Calin Rovinescu, CEO of Air Canada, which has laid off 20,000 employees, has said the domestic travel rules are “stifling an economic recovery.”

Mr. Sims did not elaborate on the management restructuring, but said WestJet would look for partners to provide services at small domestic airports, and the airline hopes laid-off employees will find work with those contractors.

“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,” Mr. Sims said. “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.”

The job cuts announced on Wednesday are non-union positions, and do not include pilots, cabin crews or dispatchers. “The good news is flight attendants are not affected at all by this,” said Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE Local 4070, in a phone interview.

About 2,700 WestJet flight attendants are on temporary layoff, receiving 75-per-cent wage subsidies through the federal government, and 260 are due back at work shortly, Mr. Rauenbusch said. WestJet has already issued about 700 layoff notices to pilots.

Story continues below advertisement

Beginning in mid-March, WestJet halted much of its service and placed employees on emergency federal wage subsidies as the life-threatening virus spurred governments to close borders and issue advisories against non-essential travel.

WestJet was acquired by Onex Corp. last December and no longer releases financial figures. The International Air Transport Association has forecast the world’s airlines the world’s airlines will lose a total of US$84-billion in 2020 as revenue falls by US$419-billion, or 50 per cent, from 2019. The global industry group also says many airlines will fail amid the unprecedented collapse in air travel and economic activity owing to the pandemic.

Airlines seeking to resume some flights, including WestJet, are emphasizing new plane cleaning methods, mandatory masks at airports and onboard, passenger screening and other new procedures to combat the virus and assure customers flying is safe.

Mr. Sims said until a vaccine is available, “the temporary solution for travel is that which we have already implemented: a hygienic experience from start to finish and lower-touch business model … so that all travellers can rebuild their confidence in flying.”

Air Canada is operating a summer schedule to 97 destinations in Canada, the U.S. and overseas, down from 220 in 2019. Three other major carriers – Porter Airlines, Sunwing Airlines and Air Transat – remain grounded and say they plan to resume flying in late July.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies