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Air Canada set to rehire 16,500 workers it just laid off

After announcing the layoff of more than 16,000 employees — about half its workforce — due to a drastic drop in business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada has apparently changed its mind.

The carrier is set to rehire all of its recently furloughed workers after learning that it can qualify for the federal wage subsidy Prime Minister Trudeau has offered Canadian businesses to keep them afloat in this unprecedented time.

Businesses of any size that have lost at least 30 per cent of their revenue as a result of the pandemic are eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, which sees the federal government covering 75 per cent of employees' salaries so that companies can continue operating and people can keep working.

Any Air Canada workers laid off after March 14 will have their jobs back until at least early June, when CEWS ends, giving them access to things like benefits and a much higher pay than they would receive from Employment Insurance.

The airline says in a press release that it has seen a 90 per cent decrease in seat capacity and operations "overnight" due to the novel coronavirus and current global travel restrictions. Its stocks have plummeted and it has had to suspend more than 100 routes.

"We are trying to keep as many of our employees as possible during the crisis and this measure will certainly help," Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu adds in the release. "Once the crisis passes and passenger demand increases, we look forward to returning as many employees as possible to active status as we resume normal operations."

Air Canada will also be taking other measures to reduce costs and increase liquidity, such as cutting the pay of top executives, to keep the company running until travel starts back up again — whenever that may be.

Lead photo by

Air Canada

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