Okanagan WestJet employees among thousands being laid off

WestJet layoffs hit Okanagan

WestJet employees in the Okanagan are among more than 3,300 being laid off by the company as a result of restructuring announced Wednesday. 

Calling the changes “unavoidable,” the Calgary-based airline said the COVID-19 pandemic is “the biggest crisis in the history of aviation."

“As per yesterday’s announcement, 3,333 WestJetters are being permanently laid off which includes 84 from Kelowna and 15 in Penticton airports. Overall in the province we will be permanently laying off 436,” said WestJet in a statement to Castanet.

The restructuring will see WestJet contract out airport services for all but Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton,”as well as reduce mobility assistance (wheelchair and meet and assist) in these four airports and aircraft turnaround service including baggage in Calgary and Toronto.”

The company says a priority in selecting airport partners will be preferential hiring interviews for some of the 2,300 WestJet airport workers now facing layoffs. WestJet says the “contracted service partner model” has proven successful at the 68 international airports they service.

While the Kelowna Airport is slowly stirring back to life, it is expected passenger counts will not recover to 2019 levels until the winter of 2023-24.

with files from The Canadian Press

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