Air Transat lays off half of its remaining flight attendants, closes Vancouver base


The Canadian Union of Public Employees says 128 Air Transat flight attendants — more than half of the current workforce of attendants — were notified last week that they will be temporarily laid off and that the airline’s Vancouver base will be closed as a stop-gap measure.

CUPE says last week’s layoffs leave only 117 flight attendants working for the month of November, down from 245 flight attendants working in October, 355 in August and 2,000 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christophe Hennebelle, Transat AT’s vice president of human resources and corporate affairs, says that while no flight attendants have been permanently let go, the company is processing “a number of temporary layoffs.”

Hennebelle says the company cannot confirm total numbers before everyone has been informed, but that 128 flight attendants were told of the change last week.

In total, the airline says it now has about 1,700 active employees, down from 5,100 before the pandemic.

The airline attributed the decision to a lack of improving prospects for the industry amid Canada’s border closures and a dearth of support programs for airlines.