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Vancouver International Airport announces more layoffs as COVID-19 grounds airline industry

An airline employee is seen at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

More layoffs are expected at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as the facility deals with a steep downturn in international travel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The latest layoffs will affect employees of the Vancouver Airport Authority, the non-profit organization that runs airport operations and employs about 500 people.

READ MORE: B.C. to require people returning to Canada to have self-isolation plan

YVR says it will begin by offering voluntary buyout packages to workers before cutting any staff.

“At YVR, we now expect to operate as a smaller airport than previously forecasted, serving fewer passengers as we work through a multi-year rebuild,” said the airport in a statement.

Click to play video 'B.C. public safety minister conducts field check of measures to monitor returning travellers at YVR' B.C. public safety minister conducts field check of measures to monitor returning travellers at YVR
B.C. public safety minister conducts field check of measures to monitor returning travellers at YVR – Apr 12, 2020

“We must make some difficult decisions to safeguard the future or our organization, including reducing the Airport Authority’s workforce to align with current and forecasted operational requirements.”

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READ MORE: Four temporary foreign workers in British Columbia test positive for COVID-19

YVR says it will provide more information once effects of the buyout on the broader workforce are clearer and affected staff have been notified.

Back in March, YVR CEO Craig Richmond warned that the airport could see a 50 per cent reduction in its workforce through layoffs.

That projection referred to the broader YVR workforce of about 26,000 who work for multiple employers on Sea Island, but not the airport authority itself.

Richmond said that the airport is expecting a 50 per cent overall drop in passengers over the course of the year.

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YVR is one of just a handful of Canadian airports cleared to handle international travel amid pandemic travel restrictions.

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