(Air Canada)

Air Canada announced on Wednesday they will be slashing 1,700 jobs as the airline industry continues to struggle under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The job eliminations are part of a plan to reduce Air Canada’s 2021 first quarter capacity by an additional 25 per cent.

Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada, says the workforce reduction and cutbacks are a necessary response to increased travel restrictions.

“We have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn,” Guillemette said in a statement.

“While this is not the news we were hoping to announce this early into the year, we are nonetheless encouraged that Health Canada has already approved two vaccines and that the Government of Canada expects the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September.”

The executive vice president also said 20,000 employees are currently on furlough and layoff, and Air Canada is hoping to bring many of those workers back once business returns to normal.

Following the planned reduction in capacity, Air Canada anticipates they will be operating at about 20 per cent of their capacity in Q1 of 2019.

Customers affected by route changes will be contacts by Air Canada for options including refunds and alternative routings where available.

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