The CBC on March 19 first reported Air Canada was set to lay off more than 5,100 members of its cabin crews because of flight suspensions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents Air Canada flight attendants, then confirmed the news to the CBC before issuing a public statement noting the layoffs would affect about 3,600 Air Canada crew members and all 1,549 crew members who work for Air Canada’s Rouge subsidiary. The CBC notes, collectively, this represents about half of the total 10,000 crew members employed at the airline.
CUPE states the layoffs are effective until April 30, 2020, at the earliest. “This has been the most challenging time any of us will likely ever experience as flight attendants,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of CUPE. “Our members have been on the front lines of this crisis since day one, and it has been a tough journey ever since. Our hearts go out to all of our members, especially those who fell sick while doing their job.”