WestJet cuts staff by 50%
March 25, 2020
WestJet has eliminated about half of its workforce as it tries to preserve itself while the coronavirus continues ravaging the air transport industry, says chief executive Ed Sims. “Today, 6,900 WestJetters are receiving notices confirming early retirements, early outs and both voluntary and involuntary leaves,” Sims says in a video message posted on the airline’s website on 24 March. The airline had about 14,000 workers prior to the cuts. “This is devastating news for all WestJetters. The fact that we avoided a potentially worse outcome is testament to the spirit and selfless attitude demonstrated by our people, who have enabled WestJet to continue operating with a collective remaining workforce of 7,100.” About 90% of those being made redundant accepted voluntary departures, for a period of no less than three months, and some permanently, he adds. “It is through these WestJetters’ sacrifices that we can preserve a core of people who will remain employed to prepare for the moment when the situation stabilises, and we can look to rise again,” Sims says. The Calgary-based airline, Canada’s second to flag carrier Air Canada, is currently operating at about the same size it was in 2003, having cancelled all international operations and working a skeleton domestic service. The airline has grounded 120 aircraft, which is about two thirds of its fleet, Sims says. The carrier, like peers in North America and around the world, has taken radical measures to preserve cash. Executive team members and directors have taken pay cuts, the airline released about 80% of contractors, instituted a hiring freeze, stopped non-essential travel and paused about three quarters of its capital projects. All Canadian airlines have been hit hard by the crisis. On Tuesday, Air Transat said it would be cutting 70% of its staff and suspend all flights from 1 April. Air Canada laid off 5,100 cabin crew last week. Vacation specialist Sunwing Airlines and regional airline Porter have also announced operational halts. The country’s airline industry has requested government aid to help manage through the global pandemic.

Source: Cirium

Boeing chief pushes back against government equity stakes
March 25, 2020
Boeing chief executive David Calhoun insists government aid to the struggling airline and aerospace sectors should not be contingent upon the government taking equity in US companies. “Nobody has an interest in retaining government equity in their company. We want to pay everything back,” Calhoun tells Fox Business on 24 March. He also insists Boeing remains fundamentally sound despite the severity of the coronavirus downturn. “I have no less optimism for our commercial business than I did before this started,” he says. His comments come as Boeing seeks $60 billion in federal US aid to help itself, its 17,000 suppliers and the broader aerospace industry weather the coronavirus downturn. Meanwhile, Boeing’s US airline customers have urged Congress to provide them with some $58 billion in financial support. Congress has been wrangling over the package in recent days, with sticking points including worker protections, the degree to which aid will be in the form of grants or loans, and whether the government will take equity in, or set other conditions upon, companies that receive aid. On Fox Business, Calhoun denies that requests by Boeing and other companies for government funds amount to corporate welfare. “It’s anything but corporate welfare,” Calhoun says. “Government is supposed to step up, to get us from one end to the other. Whatever tool they put in place should be simple, straightforward and immediately accessible.” Calhoun notes Boeing holds $15 billion in cash. He says the company “will get through this” and that the “enterprise is not threatened”. “But the credit markets are closed to us,” Calhoun adds. Boeing on 23 March announced it will suspend production in Washington state for two weeks due to a coronavirus outbreak at its facilities. Aerospace manufacturing suppliers have likewise been reeling, reporting fast-moving developments and broad business uncertainly. On 23 March, General Electric said GE Aviation, which makes commercial aircraft turbofans, is laying off 10% of US workers and furloughing half its maintenance, repair and overhaul staff for 90 days. GE did not immediately say if Boeing’s production halt will spur additional staff or production actions. Supplier Triumph Group on 24 March said it will lay off 250 salaried staff and 250 contractors, and Spirit AeroSystems is halting much of its Boeing-related work. Another supplier, Collins Aerospace, says some of its sites “have been closed in areas that have been hardest hit by the virus, and some have been closed temporarily for cleaning”. “The majority of our sites are still up and running,” Collins says. Another engine maker, Pratt & Whitney, says all its facilities are up and running. On Fox Business, Calhoun insists Boeing will survive even without government aid. He says the company might need more “haircuts” without federal support, while stressing Boeing must do all possible to limit staff reductions so as to ensure it has resources needed to resume operations when the coronavirus crisis abates. “I have to keep my workforce in place and we have got to be ready when recovery comes,” he says. The chief executive also insisted the 737 Max remains on track for mid-2020 certification. “We remain on schedule… Everything so far looks good for the certification of the Max at the mid-point of the year.”

Source: Cirium

New Yogyakarta airport to begin full operations on 29 March
March 24, 2020
Yogyakarta International airport (YIA) will begin full operations on 29 March, with the transfer of all jet operations out from the city’s Adisutjipto airport into the newer Yogyakarta airport. Operator Angkasa Pura I (AP I) says YIA will be able to handle up to 20 million passengers annually, and that its 3,250m runway could handle widebodies up to the size of Airbus A380s. In comparison, Adisutjipto could only accommodate up to 1.8 million passengers annually and narrowbodies of up to Boeing 737 NGs. Around 54 domestic and international flights will be transferred from Adisutjipto to YIA, leaving Adisutjipto to handle turboprop operations and business aviation. Yogyakarta International began operations in May 2019, where it handled domestic flights to 12 destinations, adds AP I. Cirium schedules data show that YIA only handled Batik Air, Citilink, and Lion Air, while Adisutjipto handled flights to 18 domestic points and two international destinations. “With the full operations of YIA, we are very confident of providing a multiplier effect in terms of the economy, tourism, and logistics for Yogyakarta, particularly those in Kulon Progo [district] and Central Java [region],” says AP I’s president director Faik Fahmi.

Source: Cirium


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