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Icelandair Lays Off Record 2,000 Employees

Icelandair laid off over 2,000 employees yesterday, representing the vast majority of their staff. RÚV reports that nearly 900 of the airline’s 940 flight attendants have been let go, as well as 421 pilots, with only 26 pilots remaining in the company’s ranks. It is the biggest mass layoff in Icelandic history, exceeding the number of layoffs resulting from WOW air’s bankruptcy last year (both direct and indirect).

At the beginning of March, Icelandair had 3,400 employees. The airline laid off 240 at the end of March. The company’s remaining staff is either subject to a reduced employment ratio or salary cuts.

Minimal operations continue

The Icelandic government made a short-term contract with Icelandair to sponsor a number of flights to London, Stockholm, and Boston, which ends May 5. The airline also recently signed a contract to operate 45 cargo flights from Shanghai, China to Germany and the US.

Opposition MPs have criticised the government for not doing more to support the airline, which many consider to provide an essential service. Government ministers have pointed to the airline and its shareholders as responsible for the company.

Icelandair CEO hopes to rehire staff in future

Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason expressed his hope that the company would be able to rehire the staff soon. “Of course we hope so, these are all great employees and when the country starts to rise again and markets open, then we will be ready to jump in […] and we hope it will happen sooner rather than later, but at this point in time we cannot make any promises when and how that will happen.”

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