(Instagram)

Canada’s second largest airline announced Wednesday that it would be permanently eliminating 3,333 positions as the business struggles with the “devastating force” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a spokesperson for WestJet, 55 of these permanent layoffs are positions at Victoria International Airport.

The layoffs come as part of a list of “organizational changes” within the Calgary-based airline, that include consolidating call centre activity in Alberta, contracting out airport operations in all domestic airports outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and restructuring office and management staff.

WestJet says that the airline’s scheduled operations have been reduced by more than 90 per cent year over year.

In a video statement posted to the company’s YouTube channel, WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said, “Today is the toughest of all these difficult days.”

Sims says WestJet will “seek to find a suitable partner” to contract with for airport operations, and is hoping that employees affected by the layoffs can be hired by this partner.

This latest move to cut costs follows earlier measures including a hiring freeze, cutting executive salaries, and pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects.