Thompson Okanagan WestJet employees among layoffs as company restructures - InfoNews

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Thompson Okanagan WestJet employees among layoffs as company restructures

Image Credit: WestJet
June 25, 2020 - 10:50 AM

After announcing a restructuring of the company, WestJet has permanently laid-off employees in the Okanagan.

"As per yesterday’s announcement, 3,333 WestJetters are being permanently laid off which includes 84 from Kelowna (16 from Kamloops) and 15 in Penticton airports. Overall in the province we will be permanently laying off 436,” said Lauren Stewart, media relations manager with WestJet, via email.

This restructuring will not impact flights or operations at either airport, Stewart said.

READ MORE: WestJet to lay off more than 3,300 workers under restructuring plan

Yesterday, June 24, WestJet announced organizational changes that will see the company consolidate call centre activity in Alberta, contract out airport operations in all domestic airports outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and strategically restructure its office and management staff. The moves are aimed at streamlining WestJet for a competitive future following the COVID-19 crisis, according to a news release from the company.

"Throughout the course of the biggest crisis in the history of aviation, WestJet has made many difficult, but essential, decisions to future-proof our business," said CEO Ed Sims, calling the changes "unavoidable."

Last week fewer than 7,500 passengers arrived at Canadian airports from the U.S., down more than 98 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

International passenger numbers were down 95 per cent compared to a year earlier, the agency said Wednesday.

To mitigate the impact on its workforce, WestJet implemented cost-cutting measures including releasing a majority of outside contractors, instituting a hiring freeze, stopping all non-essential travel and training, suspending any internal role movements and salary adjustments, cutting executive, vice-president and director salaries and pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects, the airline said.

WestJet said the company continues to operate service to all 38 year-round domestic airports during the pandemic to ensure essential lifelines for travel and cargo remain open but overall, the airline's scheduled operations have been reduced by more than 90 per cent year over year.

— With files from The Canadian Press. This story was updated at 12 p.m. to include the Kamloops layoff numbers.

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