Toronto Pearson Airport cuts 500 jobs as passenger numbers tank

Jul 14 2020, 7:45 am

Canada’s largest airport is reducing its staff by 27%, as it says Toronto Pearson Airport has seen a 97% drop in passenger traffic compared to last year.

According to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), these changes are due to a “significant decrease” in air traffic around the world, dropping Toronto Pearson’s passenger totals to the same levels seen in 1996. In April 2020, the GTAA reported its passenger numbers were reduced by 97% compared to 2019.

The reduction will impact approximately 500 positions, the GTAA said in a release. Roughly 200 unfilled positions will be eliminated, followed by the “voluntary departures and layoffs” of around 300 employees.

Two members of the executive team will also be leaving as part of the restructuring, as both its chief strategy officer, and vice president of customer and terminal services have been let go. Their “portfolios will be redistributed across the organization,” according to the company.

Before turning to layoffs, the GTAA says it instituted a hiring freeze, reduced capital spending by $265,000,000 for 2020, and temporarily reduced executive and board of director salaries, while applying for government wage and rental subsidies.

“This reduction in force is a difficult but necessary step, and one that we take with great sadness,” Deborah Flint, president and CEO of the GTAA, said in the release.

“We are committed to maintaining our operations and the health and safety of the airport as we evolve our organization to drive our recovery. I am confident that we have a capable and resilient team and the right approach to come through these challenging times with strength.”

As the company is expected to face continued hardship during the pandemic, the time until global air traffic begins to recover remains unknown. GTAA says travel advisories and restrictions by governments, flight and route cancellations, and fleet groundings by air carriers could continue to plague the industry for up to five years.

“The reductions come into effect beginning today, with departures extending through fall 2020,” the airport authority said. “The GTAA is working closely with Unifor and the Pearson Airport Professional Fire Fighters Association to implement these changes for their members, respecting the terms and philosophy of the collective bargaining agreements.”

All employees will be offered career transition support and enrollment in an employee assistance program.

Peter SmithPeter Smith

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