Air Canada is laying off more than 500 flight attendants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Canadian Press)

Air Canada laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants

The layoffs will take effect by April and affect roughly 60 per cent of flight attendants

A union official says Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as the country’s largest airline cuts routes and parks planes amid the pandemic.

Wesley Lesosky, who heads the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says the carrier is laying off about 3,600 mainline employees as well as all 1,549 flight attendants at Rouge, Air Canada’s discount brand.

He say the layoffs will take effect by April and affect roughly 60 per cent of flight attendants at the two segments.

Air Canada says the layoffs are temporary and employees will be returned to active duty status when the airline is able to ramp up its network schedule.

The Montreal-based company said Wednesday it will suspend the majority of its international and U.S. flights by March 31.

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