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Air Canada flight attendant union responds to sweeping layoffs due to COVID-19 pandemic

The union representing Air Canada flight attendants is deeply saddened to learn that the company will temporarily lay off approximately 3,600 of its members at Air Canada mainline, and all 1,549 of its members at Air Canada Rouge.

Earlier this week, the company announced it would significantly reduce flying capacity due to diminished demand and government-ordered border closures caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The layoffs announced today are effective until April 30, 2020 at the earliest, but the union is hopeful that conditions in the industry improve and allow the airline to begin bringing flight attendants back on-board.

“This has been the most challenging time any of us will likely ever experience as flight attendants,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents roughly 10,000 flight attendants at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. “Our members have been on the front lines of this crisis since day one, and it has been a tough journey ever since. Our hearts go out to all of our members, especially those who fell sick while doing their job.”

The union has confirmed that members being laid off – or facing “off-duty status” – will be able to collect Employment Insurance, and also access benefits. The union also pledged to assist laid-off members with their next steps, and to work diligently to bring them back once conditions in the industry stabilize.

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