Less than 24 hours after Canada’s largest airline announced plans for a massive downsizing of its workforce due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s willing to see what can be done to help the ailing company — but remained mum on details.
Speaking to reporters outside his Rideau Cottage home Saturday, Trudeau acknowledged the difficult situation facing airlines and the travel industry during the COVID-19 crisis.
But even as he offered reassurances that Ottawa would continue to work with companies and industries hardest hit by the crisis, exactly what help Air Canada can expect to receive from government remains unclear.
“We will have conversations with Air Canada as we will with airlines across the sector to try and see how the best way to get through this particular pandemic is,” Trudeau said.
“We know that airlines are incredibly hard hit by this pandemic and we will be there to work with them to see how best we can help.”
Trudeau sidestepped questions about whether aid could come in the form of a bailout, a federal stake in the company’s equity or whether Ottawa would be willing to help with the company’s pension and health benefit obligations. He committed only to talking to the company to try to determine what aid could be possible.
Air Canada will lay off more than half of its 38,000 employees next month as it grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline estimates about 20,000 of its employees will be affected.
The layoffs, which will take place June 7, will affect a minimum of 19,000 staff and could go as high as 22,800.
The country’s largest airline — along with its competitors — has seen demand for air travel evaporate amid ongoing border shutdowns and confinement measures, promptin
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