SANTIAGO – LATAM Airlines Group, the largest airline conglomerate in Latin America, has announced it is laying off as many as 1,400 employees from offices in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as a result of the end of their labor activities due to the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a video circulated by the Airline, Roberto Alvo, LATAM CEO, said: ‘Unfortunately, we have concluded that we have no other option but to downsize the company.’
He added that ‘We do not know how long it will last (the health crisis) and we do not know how many years or how long the industry will take to recover.’
Roberto Alvo noted that in past two months, they have made their best to ‘keep the group as intact as possible.’
CNN Chile reported that, of the 1,400 employees laid off, 400 are cabin crew workers.
This makes LATAM the first major Latin American carrier to confirm layoffs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, which has brought several countries in the region to severely restrict air travel. The groups’ airline operations in April and May have been reduced by 95%.
LATAM had already slashed the wages of its 43,000 employees in half.
As for the group’s subsidiaries in Argentina and Brazil — the only branches not yet linked to any layoffs — there is no confirmation as to whether they will suffer the same fate. However, it is clear that when demand rebounds, there will most likely be an excess of workforce.
In a video sent to employees after Alvo’s was released, the LATAM Brasil CEO Jerome Cadier said its branch is the only where no layoffs or long-term leaves were confirmed. This is both because of the high number of employees who have elected to go on voluntary unpaid leave and also as a result of agreements between the airline and unions that allowed all jobs to be safe until the end of June. However, he acknowledged that discussions going forward will center on further adjustments to the airline’s capacity and, thus, its workforce.
“Now it’s important to understand that we — during this month of May and start of June — need to discuss together which measures Latam Brasil will have to take to adjust to the size of the demand. This is fundamental, and we must find the best way to do this jointly,” Cadier said.–With input from MercoPress