Air Canada has suspended over 800 employees for not getting the COVID-19 vaccination and have not received an exemption.
The news comes as the airline released its third quarter financial results on Tuesday, seeing its operating revenues triple compared to the same quarter in 2020.
The Montreal-based airline employs around 27,000 cabin crew, customer service agents and more, and most have been double jabbed, according to chief executive Michael Rousseau.
“Our employees have done their part, with now over 96 per cent fully vaccinated,” he said in a conference call with investors.
“The employees who are not vaccinated or do not have a medical or other permitted exemption have been put on unpaid leave.”
Airlines across the globe have begun terminating employees refusing to get double-jabbed as government’s continue tightening vaccine policies for frontline workers.
Apparently, the suspensions are not focused on a specific type of employee at Air Canada, but “across the company”, spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email.
On 6 October, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that as of 30 October, employers in air, rail and marine transportation must establish strict vaccination policies for staff.
Canada’s second largest airline, WestJet, is also laying off almost 300 employees who have not received the COVID-19 vaccination or have not been approved of an exemption.
WestJet said on Monday less than 4 per cent of its 7,300 active staff have been placed on one-month unpaid leave which could lead to permanent termination.
United Airlines in the United States pledged to do the same with unvaccinated workers, but six employees filed a class action lawsuit to the US District Court over deeming it discrimination.
This led to Judge Mark Pittman placing a restraining order on the carrier until 8 November which blocks efforts to place staff on unpaid leave.
The layoffs follow Air Canada’s announcement of “better than expected” third quarter financial results, reporting operating revenues of CA$2.103 billion, up from the CA$757 million last year.
“We are encouraged by the favourable revenue and traffic trends in the third quarter, with strong increases in key passenger geographic segments, a record cargo performance and significant improvements in both Air Canada Vacations and Aeroplan,” Rosseau said.
Air Canada saw a steep loss of CA$1.13 billion in this year’s second quarter – not much lower than 2020 – but now has reported an improved loss of CA$364 million.