WestJet slashes capacity over ‘rushed government testing regime’
WestJet Group to stand down equivalent of 1,000 employees and reduce capacity by a third
WestJet today announced further cuts to its schedule as the airline continues to face volatile demand and instability in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions.
As a result of the reduction in capacity, the equivalent of 1,000 employees across the WestJet Group of Companies will be impacted through a combination of furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves and reduced hours. There will also be a hiring freeze implemented.
“Immediately following the federal government’s inbound testing announcement on December 31, and with the continuation of the 14-day quarantine, we saw significant reductions in new bookings and unprecedented cancellations,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “The entire travel industry and its customers are again on the receiving end of incoherent and inconsistent government policy. We have advocated over the past 10 months for a coordinated testing regime on Canadian soil, but this hasty new measure is causing Canadian travelers unnecessary stress and confusion and may make travel unaffordable, unfeasible and inaccessible for Canadians for years to come.”
“Regrettably, this new policy leaves us with no other option but to again place a large number of our employees on leave, while impacting the pay of others,” continued Sims. “This is a cruel outcome for loyal and hardworking staff who have been diligently working through the pandemic.”
With today’s announcement the airline will remove approximately 30 percent of its currently planned February and March capacity from the schedule, a more than 80 percent reduction year over year. In addition, the airline will reduce domestic frequencies by 160 departures as frequently evolving advisories, travel restrictions and guidance continue to negatively impact demand trends. Any impacted guests will be contacted directly.
Network impact by the numbers:
- With the planned reductions, WestJet will operate at a more than 80 percent reduction year over year.
- Specific to international markets, capacity will be down 93 percent year over year where the airline will be operating only five daily flights compared to 100 last year
- Elimination of more than 230 weekly departures (including 160 domestic) and removal of more than 30 per cent of capacity versus prior months.
- Suspension of 11 routes (Edmonton-Cancun, Edmonton- Puerto Vallarta, Edmonton-Phoenix, Vancouver-Cancun, Vancouver-Phoenix, Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver-Cabo, Vancouver-Los Angeles, Vancouver-Palm Springs, Calgary-Las Vegas, Calgary-Orlando).
- Seasonal suspension of 13 international and transborder destinations (Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Huatulco, Ixtapa, London (Gatwick), Mazatlán, Nassau (Bahamas), Port of Spain, San Jose (Costa Rica), Tampa, and Turks and Caicos.
- The airline will operate approximately 150 daily departures, returning to levels not seen since June 2001.