Canadian leisure airline Air Transat announced today that it would have to lay off 3,600 employees as air travel demand rapidly dries up. According to Global News, this figure is close to 70% of the Montreal-based carrier’s total workforce. The sharp decrease in bookings is, of course, due to the current outbreak situation and the increase in travel restrictions imposed by countries all over the world trying to contain the virus’ spread.
All flight crew to be let go
Some of the 3,600 layoffs are effective immediately, the airline stated. Other jobs may be given one month of notice. However, the airline makes it clear that this will include all flight crew personnel.
The airline goes on to say that similar measures are being implemented in other countries where the carrier has employees. Executives and members of its Board of Directors who are not being laid off have accepted voluntary pay cuts.
“These measures have forced us to totally suspend our operations. We have done this in such a way that none of our customers are stuck far from home, and we are in the process of bringing them back…[I]n 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.” – Jean-Marc Eustache, Transat President and Chief Executive Officer
Flight crew that aren’t being cut immediately will presumably be operating informal repatriation flights in order to get stranded travelers home. As of last week – March 18, some 65,000 Canadian Transat customers were at “Sun” (Mexico, etc) or European destinations. The airline says that by yesterday roughly 40,000, or more than 60%, had been returned to Canada.
The A310’s early retirement
According to Routesonline, Air Transat recently filed service changes for its final Airbus A310 operation. The airline had originally intended to operate the aging widebody through the month of April. However, this has unfortunately been canceled.
As a result of this adjustment, the airline’s final scheduled A310 service is now on the 31st of March, flying from Manchester to Toronto. Here are the details (all times are local):
- Outbound: Flight TS292 on March 30th. Departing Toronto Pearson (YYZ) at 2215, arriving in Manchester (MAN) at 1015 the next day.
- Inbound: Flight TS293 on March 31st. Departing Manchester at 1230 and arriving at Toronto Pearson at 1530.
As for the rest of Air Transat’s operations, the company says its final scheduled flight before the suspension will take off on April 1st.
It has certainly been challenging times for airlines all around the world and Air Transat is no exception. Unfortunately, airlines and their employees are the first employment casualties of this global crisis.
“We are very much in agreement with the measures being taken to fight the spread of the virus and protect the public’s health. As a community, we have to do what is necessary to stop the pandemic,” adds the company’s President and CEO.
Share your memories and experiences of flying with Air Transat and/or the A310 in the comments!