canada airline

I just lost my job working for an airline in Canada and I don't know when I'll get it back

Just this week, Air Canada announced layoffs for 3,600 of its mainline employees, as well as its entire 1,549 Air Canada Rouge staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Westjet announced 6,900 layoffs and Air Transat, 3,600. 

As one of the cabin crew laid off, I can't help but wonder whether these layoffs will be temporary or permanent. 

I also can't help but wonder: what could the expected economic fallout from this pandemic really mean for the airline industry in the next coming years?

The airline industry has been resilient in surviving the likes of the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 financial crisis, and the 2002-04 SARS pandemic – and that's just in this century alone. 

But COVID-19 already seems bigger than the aftermath of all of these. 

It was several weeks ago that I already started to see the impact. Businesses began to cut back on travel and passengers opted to defer holidays as the fear of coronavirus began to spread.

The once packed planes I was so used to working on began flying nearly empty, with hundreds of no-shows on each flight. Sales dropped even more when the government announced an international travel ban

Many of us in the industry try to remain optimistic that these layoffs will be short lived, but the very real prospect of losing summer, and even fall bookings loom as this rapidly spreading virus continues to be a major threat. 

Time will tell just how much the airline industry is going to take a hit in the next coming years – and how much this will affect not only me, but my fellow colleagues and air crew. 

The severe drop in demand, along with fixed costs (that airlines have to pay regardless of whether their planes are flying) could mean an entire new scale of financial loss and the loss of jobs for thousands. 

I'm in the dark as to when I'll be able to return to my job. My last few flights will be bittersweet, knowing that there may not be a job or stable industry to return to. For some, this means losing a job that has been at the center of their life for over twenty years. 

Right now, I focus on taking it day-by-day. All we can do is cling to the hope that we'll make it through, coming out stronger on the other side. 

This article has been submitted to Freshdaily by someone who currently works as a flight attendant. Sarah Nelson is a pseudonym.

Lead photo by

Nel Botha


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