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Air Canada cuts 1,500 more jobs and cancels 17 more routes

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Canada’s biggest airline has informed 1,500 of its workers that they’ll soon be out of jobs as a result of new travel restrictions and a dramatic reduction in demand for flying.

The airline will “temporarily reduce its unionized workforce by 1,500 people and by an as-yet-undetermined number of management positions,” Air Canada told CBC News.

The move comes on the heels of a decision last week to temporarily shut down all Rouge flights, which resulted in the loss of 80 jobs.

“This is due to the federal government’s introduction of a mandatory quarantine on arrival as well as the continued suspension of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean,” the airline’s largest union CUPE said.

At least 900 of the jobs lost will come from CUPE members.

“We appreciate the need for measures to prevent the spread of new variants of COVID-19 in Canada,” said Wesley Lesosky, who represents the Air Canada component of CUPE. “But restrictions have to be accompanied by solutions.”

Route suspensions

The airline is also shutting down service on 17 more routes starting next week including:

  • Toronto to Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Toronto to Boston.
  • Toronto to Washington, D.C. (Reagan)
  • Toronto to Denver
  • Toronto to New York City (LaGuardia)
  • Montreal to Boston.
  • Montreal to LaGuardia.
  • Vancouver to Seattle.
  • Toronto to Bogotá, Colombia.
  • Toronto to Dubai.
  • Toronto to São Paulo, Brazil.
  • Toronto to Hong Kong.
  • Toronto to Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • Montreal to Bogotá, Colombia.
  • Vancouver to London, U.K.
  • Vancouver to Tokyo (Narita).
  • Toronto to Dublin, Ireland.

“Affected customers with bookings will be contacted with options, including alternate routings,” Air Canada said.

Calgary-based independent airline analyst Rick Erickson, who has no financial relationship with Air Canada, called the news “another serious, serious blow to Canada’s air carrier sector.”

The job cuts mean that Air Canada has essentially cut its workforce in half, from roughly 40,000 people before the pandemic to about 20,000 today. WestJet has cut even deeper, he says, from 14,000 workers before to only about 3,500 today.

Erickson says he was more surprised by the route suspensions, because they are not all to the U.S. and Caribbean sun destinations that new travel rules targeted.

Air Canada pulling out of those routes won’t do much to limit travel, because foreign airlines will likely maintain their service.

“The situation is dire,” he said. “The air carriers have had no choice but to continue to make cuts.”