Coronavirus crisis: Air Canada lays off 5,000, France tries to save food supply

By: |
March 23, 2020 4:37 PM

Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants, a union official says, as the country's largest airline cuts routes amid plunging demand due to the coronavirus.

Coronavirus crisis, Air Canada, Air Canada lays off, France, China, coronavirus outbreak, Air Canada flights, United Arab EmiratesThe carrier says employees will be returned to active duty status once flights resume. (Reuters photo)

The rapid spread of the coronavirus since it was first reported in China has dealt an unparalleled shock to the world economy. Following are business developments Monday related to the outbreak as governments attempt to stabilize their economies, companies struggle to cope and millions of people face job losses and disruptions in supplies of goods and in services.

Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants, a union official says, as the country’s largest airline cuts routes amid plunging demand due to the coronavirus. The Montreal-based carrier is laying off about 3,600 employees, plus 1,549 flight attendants at its low-cost subsidiary Rouge, according to Wesley Lesosky, head of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The layoffs will take effect by April and affect roughly 60 per cent of flight attendants, Lesosky said. Air Canada says it will suspend most of its international and US flights by March 31. The carrier says employees will be returned to active duty status once flights resume.

President Emmanuel Macron urged employees to keep working in French supermarkets and some other businesses deemed essential amid a spreading shutdown imposed to fight the coronavirus. “We need to keep the country running,” Macron said.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday the whole supply chain for the food industry must be guaranteed after France shut down this week all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and retail shops that are deemed nonessential.

Many employees are working from home. Businesses that are allowed to remain open must enforce rules about social distancing, washing hands and disinfection. The United Arab Emirates is suspending passenger transits through Dubai, the world’s busiest international airport, for two weeks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Suspending transit through Dubai, which connects Europe with Asia and Australia, will affect travelers around the world. Low-cost airline Eastar Jet has become the first South Korean carrier to shut down all flights as demand plunges due to the coronavirus.

The company says it will temporarily suspend its domestic flights from Tuesday to April 25. Eastar halted international routes to Asian destinations this month after Japan began enforcing 14-day quarantines on passengers arriving from South Korea. Other budget South Korean carriers including Air Seoul, Air Busan and T’Way Air operate only domestic flights after suspending their international services.

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