Air Canada cutting about 1,700 jobs as it reduces capacity

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Air Canada says it will cut 1,700 jobs as it scales down flights for the balance of the first quarter of 2021.

The 25-per-cent reduction in service will also affect 200 employees at Air Canada’s Express carriers, the company said Wednesday morning.

With the reduction, Air Canada’s capacity in the first quarter of 2021 will be about 20 per cent of its capacity during the first quarter of 2019, the company says.

Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s executive vice-president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement that increased travel restrictions by federal and provincial governments have had an immediate impact on the company’s bookings.

“While this is not the news we were hoping to announce this early into the year, we are nonetheless encouraged that Health Canada has already approved two vaccines and that the government of Canada expects the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing our business start to return to normal and to bringing back some of our more than 20,000 employees currently on furlough and layoff.”

Air Canada notified airports in Atlantic Canada this week that it would cut additional routes in the region, suspending all flights in Gander, N.L., Goose Bay, N.L., and Fredericton, N.B., until further notice. It also said it was suspending passenger service to Yellowknife on Jan. 23.

Air Canada is contacting affected customers to offer them options such as refunds or alternative travel arrangements.

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