Air Canada to rehire 16,500 laid-off workers with help of federal government’s wage subsidy

Air Canada to begin laying off 15,000 employees amid pandemic-related flight cancellations

Air Canada plans to rehire 1000’s of its employees lately laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after negotiations with the federal authorities to verify that the airline would qualify for a wage subsidy program.

As first reported by The Toronto Star, the airline introduced that greater than 16,000 of its lately laid-off employees might be put again on the payroll.

The rehiring might be retroactive to March 15, with the wage subsidy program anticipated to final till not less than June 6.

Earlier this month, Ottawa expanded its wage subsidy program in order that it may cowl extra corporations, together with bigger ones. This system was initially focused solely at small- and medium-sized companies, but it surely has since been prolonged to cowl nearly any Canadian firm that has seen its revenues plunge by 30 per cent due to COVID-19.

Canada’s airline trade has seen a catastrophic discount in demand as a consequence of lockdowns to regulate the unfold of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Air Canada says its seat capability is down by virtually 90 per cent for the reason that disaster started.

Unions have signed off on the plan

“The Canada emergency wage subsidy is a particularly necessary program to assist staff and employers throughout this time of disaster, and as certainly one of Canada’s largest employers most affected by COVID-19, we need to acknowledge the management of the federal government of Canada in introducing it,” Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu mentioned in a information launch Wednesday morning.

“We try to maintain as lots of our staff as attainable in the course of the disaster and this measure will definitely assist.”

An Air Canada spokesperson instructed CBC Information that each one furloughed employees who qualify might be put again on payroll, however won’t be introduced again to energetic obligation standing as there isn’t any work for them, given the schedule reductions. They’ll have entry to their present advantages packages.

A person makes use of hand sanitizer at Toronto’s Pearson Worldwide Airport on Wednesday. Air Canada says its seat capability is down by virtually 90 per cent for the reason that COVID-19 disaster started. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

As soon as operations return to regular, Rovinescu mentioned, the corporate will return “as many staff as attainable to energetic standing.”

The airline additionally mentioned that all the unions representing the corporate’s varied employees have signed off on the plan.

“This is able to be an necessary piece of reduction for our members who’ve endured some very troublesome instances over the previous a number of months,” mentioned Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada element of CUPE, which represents 10,000 of the airline’s flight attendants. “They’re due for a bit of bit of fine information.”

Air Canada CEO and CFO defer salaries

Air Canada beforehand introduced that it’s going to quickly cease shopping for again its personal shares as a option to preserve money in the course of the present disaster, and the corporate’s managers may even be getting decreased paycheques.

Rovinescu and the corporate’s chief monetary officer, Michael Rousseau, have agreed to defer their salaries whereas different senior executives will forgo between 25 and 50 per cent of theirs.

Members of Air Canada’s board have agreed to a 25 per cent discount, and all different Air Canada managers could have their salaries decreased by 10 per cent for the second quarter.

Different airways

Air Canada’s Calgary-based rival WestJet additionally lower its workforce by roughly half final month due to drastically decreased demand as a consequence of COVID-19. That airline instructed CBC Information in a press release Wednesday it’s “persevering with to guage” the federal government’s wage subsidy program, and might be watching as the federal government “finalizes the small print.”

“WestJet’s high precedence is the well-being of our staff and the continued viability of our airline,” spokesperson Lauren Stewart instructed CBC Information.

Edmonton-based Aptitude Airways, which had laid off 130 individuals when the COVID-19 disaster began, adopted Air Canada’s lead on Wednesday, with the low cost service asserting that each one of them could be rehired at their full wage — past the 75 per cent that the federal government program offers.

“We resolved on the outset of the outbreak to uphold our civic accountability to our passengers, staff and the communities we serve,” mentioned Aptitude vice-president Richard Williams. “We’re proud that, with the assistance of the Canadian authorities, we are able to proceed to satisfy the second.”

Toronto-based airline Porter Airways has halted its flights as a consequence of COVID-19 and laid off its employees. In a press release to CBC Information, the corporate mentioned it’s assessing whether or not it would qualify for this system and is engaged in “energetic discussions” with the federal government on the topic.

“If Porter is eligible for CEWS and there’s a profit for group members to take part, our intention is to benefit from this system,” mentioned Porter spokesperson Brad Cicero. “Energetic discussions are going down with the federal government to finalize particulars and perceive excellent questions.”

CBC Information additionally reached out to smaller Canadian airways, together with Sunwing and Air Transat, for touch upon Wednesday, however these requests had been not instantly returned.

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