Big White laying off staff as resort copes with pandemic ski season | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Big White laying off staff as resort copes with pandemic ski season

Some workers laid off at Big White Ski Resort get to hang around and keep skiing and boarding.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Big White
February 17, 2021 - 12:00 PM

Times are tough for Big White Ski Resort workers in a number of ways as the hill copes with the impacts of COVID-19 on its business.

For some of the workers, that means they are now becoming permanently laid off as the slow season continues. For others, that means trying to come up with thousands of dollars in air fares trying to get home to Australia.

The roughly 450 rooms the resort operates directly were at 40 per cent occupancy over the Family Day long weekend, which was about same for Christmas and New Year’s, Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice-president for the resort, told iNFOnews.ca.

“It’s a large infrastructure of laundry facilities and housekeeping,” he said. “There are departments that are scaling back and moving people around and giving people options. Some people just want to go home.”

For those who are laid off and living on the mountain, their season passes are still valid so they can enjoy the rest of their stay but for those who want to return to Australia, the cost is prohibitive.

Rather than being able to take a direct flight from Vancouver for $1,800 or $2,000 as they have in the past, they’re now facing ticket prices of $8,000 to $15,000 on routes with many stops in cities in China and Southeast Asia, he said.

That’s more than they are able to save while working on the mountain.

“That’s call mom and dad time,” Ballingall said.

The weekend was also the worst on record in terms of the number of people actually skiing since it got to -31 Celsius on the hill. People would rather sit in the hot tub than freeze on the mountain, Ballingall said.

Despite the difficulties, the mountain will stay open until April 11, he said.


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