WestJet has announced it’s set to cut almost 30 per cent of its currently planned February and March capacity due to an “unprecedented” number of passenger cancellations.
The Canadian airline also said the equivalent of 1,000 employees across the large group of companies would see their hours cut through furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves and reduced hours.
“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, the airline’s chief executive.
“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 co-ordinated testing regime on Canadian soil, but this hasty new measure is causing Canadian travellers 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. This is a cruel outcome for loyal and hardworking staff who have been diligently working through the pandemic.”
In a statement to the media, WestJet also said:
- It will operate at a more than 80 per cent reduction year over year;
- Specific to international markets, capacity will be down 93 per cent year over year where the airline will be operating only five daily flights compared with 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.
Additional reporting by airlinerwatch.com