Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair has become the second airline, after Air Canada, to rehire staff laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move is in response to a federal emergency wage subsidy which is proposed to cover 75% of an employee’s salary. Flair said it would go further, topping salaries up to 100% of pre-pandemic levels. Flair said the top-up would “ensure its employees have financial security during a time of economic uncertainty.”
“In response to this crisis, the Government of Canada has demonstrated moral and fiscal leadership by taking decisive action to support the Canadian worker first,” said Richard Williams, Flair’s Vice-President of Human Resources in a statement.
“Flair is the airline of the hard-working, everyday Canadian,” he said. ” We resolved at the outset of the outbreak to uphold our civic responsibility to our passengers, employees and the communities we serve. We are proud that, with the help of the Canadian government, we can continue to meet the moment.”
Flair has reduced its capacity by 90%, flying only one route between Vancouver and Toronto four days a week. On two of those days, the plane stops in Edmonton each way, and two days a week in Calgary.
The airline said it has moved into cargo and charters to help make up some of its lost business. Flair started as a charter airline before transitioning to an ultra low-cost model and moving its headquarters to Edmonton.
Flair chief executive Jim Scott told Western Aviation News that the airline has upped its game as a result of the pandemic, cleaning aircraft at every station stop.
“When we emerge on the other side of the crisis, Flair will be vital to the pace of the economic and social recovery, by providing reliable and low-cost air travel for Canadians, as well as additional competition in the market.” he said.
After Wednesday’s announcements, the number of people laid off in Canada’s aviation sector dropped to more than 27,000 from a high of more than 45,000.
That is most likely an undercount of several thousand, as it misses people laid off from airport services that have closed their doors as passenger numbers dwindle.
Just Wednesday, Nanaimo Airport in British Columbia announced the latest casualty. “The Connections Cafe has closed its doors,” the airport said in a tweet. “We look forward to seeing them open again soon!”
For the protection and comfort of our staff and passengers, The Connections Cafe has closed its doors. Coffee, food and drinks are still available in the terminal's vending machines, which are being restocked with fresh food daily. We look forward to seeing them open again soon! pic.twitter.com/YxhzVrYsvH— Nanaimo Airport YCD (@FlyYCD) April 8, 2020