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WestJet cuts flight capacities, reduces man-hours in response to federal travel restrictions

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WestJet says the equivalent of 1,000 employees will be impacted by schedule changes and capacity reductions. The airline announced Friday impacts would be felt across the WestJet Group of Companies through a combination of furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves, and reduced hours.

Flight capacities are being reduced by a third, and a temporary hiring freeze is being implemented. The company says it saw unprecedented cancellations and significant reductions in new bookings after Ottawa announced that all incoming air passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test.

WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims says the changes are in response to continuing travel advisories and restrictions set in place by the federal government.

“Immediately following the federal government’s inbound testing announcement on December 31st, and with the continuation of the 14-day quarantine, we saw significant reductions in new bookings and unprecedented cancellations,” he says.

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“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.”

The airline is also reducing frequencies by 160 departures as evolving advisories, travel restrictions and guidance continue to impact demand trends. The suspension of several routes and destinations were also detailed, none of which directly impact Grande Prairie.

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