One of major Canadian airlines WestJet reported laying off 1700 pilots beginning May 1. The layoffs will affect workers from WestJet, its regional subsidiary Encore and LCC Swoop.

The airline told Daily Hive that the decision of to cut its workforce comes as “a last resort” in response to current COVID-19 outbreak.

Spokesperson for WestJet told: “Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet; however the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry is colossal, and WestJet is making difficult but necessary decisions to right-size our airline to weather the crisis.”

To date airline has grounded close to 75% of its fleet, suspended all international operations, reduced its domestic capacity by 40% and have already laid off 6,900 workers with intentions to rehire them after the situation in travel market improves.

For now airline says that 1,700 affected pilots will be marked as “inactive”, but will still receive payrolls up until the end of Canada’s stimulus program.