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Coronavirus impact: Air Canada to temporarily lay off half its workforce

Last week, Air Canada -- the first Canadian airline to be hit hard by the pandemic -- announced the temporary layoff of more than 5,100 flight attendants, including 1,500 members of its low-cost subsidiary Air Canada Rouge.

March 31, 2020 / 11:09 AM IST

Air Canada announced on March 30 that it would temporarily lay off nearly half of its employees and reduce activity by up to 90 percent in the second quarter due to the coronavirus. The measures would affect 15,200 employees and about 1,300 managers from April 3, the airline said in a press release.

Last week, Air Canada -- the first Canadian airline to be hit hard by the pandemic -- announced the temporary layoff of more than 5,100 flight attendants, including 1,500 members of its low-cost subsidiary Air Canada Rouge.

"The unpredictable extent and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a significant overall response," Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu said in the statement.

"To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while." The Montreal-based company will reduce operations for the second quarter of 2020 by 85 to 90 percent compared to the same period the previous year.

A cost reduction program will be implemented to generate "at least $500 million" (320 million euros). Senior executives will give up a part of their salary, and the president and chief financial officer will give up their entire salary.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Air Canada has suspended most of its international flights, including to the United States, after the announcement of the temporary closure of the US-Canada border in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The number of airports in Canada it is now serving has been reduced from 62 to 40.

Air Canada employs 36,000 people around the world, according to the company website.

Canada's second-largest airline, Air Transat, which is being acquired by Air Canada, also announced it would lay off nearly 2,000 flight attendants, beginning in early April.
PTI
first published: Mar 31, 2020 10:55 am

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