Canada’s second-largest airline has had to make some further cuts to its workforce, announcing this past week that 250 staff will be laid off. Citing Canada’s recent restrictions imposed on travel to Mexico and other southern sun destinations, WestJet will lay off 120 cabin crew as of March 2nd. The other 130 WestJet jobs being cut will come from customer service and ground staff roles in Manitoba.

120 cabin crew laid off due to flight suspensions

According to Global News, WestJet is laying off 120 cabin crew members. These jobs will be cut on March 2nd, giving affected employees one more month of work.

A WestJet spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

“As a direct result of the recent suspension of our flights to Mexico and the Caribbean including quarantine requirements, WestJetters were notified that we are planning a further workforce reduction of approximately 120 Cabin Crew Members as of March 2, 2021. We continue to provide all eligible laid-off employees access to CEWS and have no additional workforce updates to announce at this time.”

This particular move was blamed on the lack of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean – which WestJet had cut in cooperation with the Canadian government. Air Canada and other Canadian operators also complied with the government’s request and suspended service to these leisure destinations, at least until April 30th.

The following measures were also included in the announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

  • Limiting international flights to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal
  • Mandatory testing at the airport
  • Inbound travelers will need to quarantine at an approved/designated hotel for three days, at their own expense
  • After receiving a negative test result, passengers will need to quarantine at home under increased surveillance and enforcement
  • Positive results will lead to quarantining in designated governmental spaces to ensure they are not carrying variants

130 customer service and ground staff laid off in Manitoba

Separate from the 120 cabin crew positions being cut, CBC reports that WestJet will permanently replace 130 of its employees in Winnipeg (110) and Brandon (20) with services from a third party. This was part of an earlier-announced 3,333-job reduction plan.

While the airline had announced in June 2020 that massive workforce cuts were pending, some of the implementation is just now taking place. The airline had already noted that much of its operations across the country would be shifted to contracts with third-party services rather than ‘in house’ WestJet employees. The airline did, however, note that it would not be contracting out its operations at airports in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto.

The CBC notes that a company by the name of Airport Terminal Services has been selected to provide services at the Winnipeg airport. At the airport of Manitoba’s second-largest city of Brandon, a company called Strategic Aviation has been selected.

Outsourcing jobs to third parties is a well-known strategy for reducing costs and has become all the more popular amid the global health crisis as airlines desperately seek to lower their cash burn. Australian carrier Qantas notably moved to outsource 2000 ground handling jobs at the end of November, while just last month, we reported that United Airlines was looking to outsource its catering services.

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