MIAMI – Air Transat (TS) announced on March 24 that it will temporarily lay off 70% of its staff as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The airline will also gradually halt all operations until April 30. The purpose of the gradual halt of operations is to help with the repatriation of its customers to their home countries.

According to Air Transat, as of March 18th, approximately 65,000 Canadian Air Transat customers were in Europe or other destinations. Less than a week later, 60% (40,000) of those passengers had returned to Canada.

The employees being temporarily laid off include all flight personnel. While some layoffs will happen immediately while other departments have a month’s notice. A total of 70% of TS’s staff (3,600) are to be temporarily laid off.

Along with the layoffs, executives who continue working have all taken a voluntary pay cut to preserve the airline’s resources.

Helping the company survive

Air Transat President and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache explained that in order to safeguard the company, “we have unfortunately had to proceed with layoffs that affect a significant portion of our employees. We are doing this with great sadness and we hope that everyone will be able to return to work as quickly as possible.”

Eustache added, “In these circumstances, I want to pay the sincerest tribute to our flight crews, who have remained at their posts in stressful and difficult conditions, flying our aircraft sometimes without regard for their personal safety.”

“I can never say enough to express our gratitude, and the same goes for our commercial and administrative personnel who, each in their own job, made extraordinary efforts to successfully complete this unprecedented operation,” concluded the CEO.

Air Transat, as most airlines and governments worldwide, is taking necessary steps to survive in what is now dire times for the industry, as forecasts now predict that the worst may yet be to come.

Airways will continue to provide the latest developments about the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on commercial aviation.