Published on : Tuesday, May 26, 2020
In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the plight of the global aviation industry, Fiji Airways has decided to furlough over half of its total workforce. On Monday, the airline announced that around 758 employees, who are not working at present, are not expected to return to work anytime soon. The company informed that the employees who were initially laid off for a temporary time period, has been permanently furloughed.
The move arrives due to the massive plunge in travel demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the major decline of the carrier’s revenue. The employees who lost their jobs have been provided with 48 hours to return Fiji Airways property and to collect their personal belongings. All employees will be given a minimum notice period of 1 month alongside accumulated leave entitlements. The laid-off positions include 79 expatriate pilots and 8 expatriate executives.
Andre Viljoen, Managing Director and CEO, Fiji Airways said in a recent press statement that the announcement was extremely difficult and has been made after exhausting all remaining options. He mentioned that the harsh reality if prolonged flight cancellations goes on to mean that the airline does not have work for a large segment of its workforce at present as well as in the forthcoming future.
He also said that airline was left with no option other than terminating the employment of staff that cannot be provided with work. He shared that the step though unfortunate was inevitable in order to protect the cash position of the company and to preserve possible jobs of employees required to keep the business running at present.
He further added that tourism is the backbone of Fiji’s economy. He said that Fiji Airways will play a significant role in leading Fiji’s economic recovery post the coronavirus pandemic and informed that the carrier takes the obligation to the Fijian people very seriously. He also mentioned that he is hoping to be able to offer jobs to the terminated employees after travel demand returns back to normal.
Currently, the airline has decided to continue functioning with employees having essential skills, training, and experience, such as aircraft maintenance workers and those in critical safety-related roles. In addition, the carrier will also reduce the salaries of all remaining employees by 20% starting June 1. Most employees will not be working full time and will only be paid for working days. Employees would be eligible to use accrued leave to top up salaries. The layoffs will reduce Fiji Airway’s payroll expenses by half.