Coronavirus: Air Canada lays off 5,000, suspends most international and US flights

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The rapid spread of the coronavirus since it was first reported in China has dealt an unparalleled shock to the world economy and has particularly impacted airlines across the globe.

Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as the country’s largest airline cuts routes amid plunging demand.

The Montreal-based carrier is laying off about 3,600 employees, plus 1,549 flight attendants at its low-cost subsidiary Rouge, according to Wesley Lesosky, head of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The layoffs will take effect by April and affect roughly 60% of flight attendants.

Air Canada says it will suspend most of its international and U.S. flights by March 31. The carrier says employees will be returned to active duty status once flights resume.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is suspending passenger transits through Dubai, the world’s busiest international airport, for two weeks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Suspending transit through Dubai, which connects Europe with Asia and Australia, will affect travelers around the world.

And low-cost airline Eastar Jet has become the first South Korean carrier to shut down all flights as demand plunges. The company says it will temporarily suspend its domestic flights from Tuesday to April 25. Other budget South Korean carriers including Air Seoul, Air Busan and T’Way Air operate only domestic flights after suspending their international services.

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