Coronavirus: Toronto’s Porter Airlines temporarily suspends flights, lays off staff

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Canadians returning to Toronto Pearson International Airport'
Coronavirus: Canadians returning to Toronto Pearson International Airport
WATCH: Canadians returning home from vacation say they’re happy to be home. Others say they are leaving for China where they believe they’ll be safer. Seán OShea reports. – Mar 17, 2020

Toronto’s Porter Airlines announced Wednesday it will be suspending all flights beginning Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline also said it is being forced to issue “many temporary layoffs across all areas of the business,” which will also come into effect Friday.

“We are doing everything possible to support our team during this period and intend to welcome back all of our team members to Porter, as operations restart,” a spokesperson told Global News. “Certain components of health benefits are being maintained and paid for by the company during the temporary layoff period.

Employees will also have access to an assistance program, as well as other wellness programs on top of any support the government provides.

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The airline said it hopes to resume service June 1.

“The speed of developments related to COVID-19 is shocking. It is having an unprecedented impact around the globe on businesses, economies and people,” president and CEO Michael Deluce said in a release.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario declares state of emergency over COVID-19'
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario declares state of emergency over COVID-19

“Porter supports the efforts of the Canadian, U.S. and global authorities in their responses. Government actions make it apparent that restricting activities by people in all communities is what’s required to keep everyone healthy, and ultimately to end this fast-spreading pandemic.”

The airlines said it will operate through Friday to ensure already-booked customers are able to make their trips and people who need to make travel arrangements can still do so.

Porter said it has also waived change and cancellations fees for all flights. Customers can made changes online here.

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“If you have an upcoming flight booked with us during our temporary suspension, we will email you or your travel agent with information specific to your reservation.”

As of Tuesday evening, Ontario had 184 confirmed active cases of COVID-19.

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