July 10, 2008 / 5:03 PM / in 9 years

Air Canada lays off 632 flight attendants

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Air Canada ACa.TO will lay off 632 flight attendants, representing 9 percent of its in-flight staff, as part of a round of cuts it announced in June to deal with runaway fuel prices, the country’s biggest airline said on Thursday.

<p>Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, June 17, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>

Air Canada said it is cutting 300 flight attendant jobs as a result of a reduction in international long-haul flights from Vancouver. It is also shutting cabin-crew bases in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, meaning the loss of 332 jobs by November 1.

“It was difficult business decision to close the Halifax and Winnipeg bases and it was not made lightly,” Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said.

“But we did undertake a very close and detailed review and we found that due to the changing nature of our domestic flying over the past five years, it was no longer viable to base flight attendant crews at those two locations.”

Air Canada currently employs just under 7,000 flight attendants. They are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

After the cuts, the airline will be left with four cabin crew bases in Canada.

In June, Air Canada said it plans to cut 2,000 jobs and reduce its overall capacity by 7 percent in its autumn and winter schedules to deal with record fuel prices that are buffeting the world’s airline industry.

Its regional feeder affiliate, Jazz Air LP JAZ_u.TO, responded early this month by announcing it will be forced to chop 270 jobs and reduce its capacity.

But all the flight attendants Air Canada is laying off are part of the carrier’s mainline service, Mah said.

The airline has yet to decide how many jobs with other functions, including pilots, ticket agents, maintenance crews and managers, will be cut, she said.

“We continue to dialogue with all of the unions to talk about the options available for each of the respective collective agreements as well as mitigation measures,” he said.

Air Canada A-series shares fell 41 Canadian cents, or nearly 7 percent, to a new low of C$5.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ACE Aviation Holdings Inc ACEa.TO owns 75 percent of the stock.

Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson

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