Transat A.T. temporarily lays off 70 per cent of staff amid spread of COVID-19

Air Transat is temporarily laying off 70 per cent of its staff as it suspends flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, parent company Transat A.T. announced Monday.

The layoffs – some of which will be effective immediately, others with advance notice – will affect roughly 3,600 people, including flight crew and staff.

Those who will still have jobs, such as executives and board members, will take voluntary pay cuts. 

“We are very much in agreement with the measures being taken to fight the spread of the virus and protect the public's health. As a community, we have to do what is necessary to stop the pandemic,” said Transat president and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache.

Transat’s operations are slowly transitioning to a complete halt, effective as of April 1, when the airline’s last flight is scheduled.

The decision to gradually ground flights rather than stop them immediately was made in order to help bring Canadians home from abroad. 

"I want to pay the sincerest tribute to our flight crews, who have remained at their posts in stressful and difficult conditions, flying our aircraft sometimes without regard for their personal safety,” Eustache said. 

Between March 18 and March 22, Transat brought roughly 60 per cent of its travellers home from both the south and European destinations. About 25,000 passengers were still abroad as of March 22.