World News

Canada’s WestJet to lay off 1,700 pilots

(Reuters) – Canada’s privately held WestJet Airlines is laying off 1,700 pilots amid travel bans to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a company memo seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The coronavirus crisis has brought global travel to a virtual standstill, with the steep drop in passenger traffic forcing airlines to cancel several flights or ground fleets.

WestJet will lay off 700 pilots effective May 1 and the remaining 1,000 on June 1.

“We continue to negotiate with the company to protect our members’ interests while preserving as many pilot positions as possible,” said pilot union Air Line Pilots Association.

WestJet said in March that 6,900 of its employees would leave the company, with 90% departing voluntarily. Canada’s second-biggest carrier had about 14,000 employees before the March announcement.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)