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Coronavirus: Aéroports de Montréal slashes 30 per cent of its workforce as pandemic continues

The operator and manager of Montreal's Trudeau and Mirabel airports introduced new cost-cutting measures amid turbulent financial times resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) announced Thursday it is cutting its workforce by 30 per cent in addition to suspending all construction projects that don’t protect the integrity of its assets.

The operator and manager of Montreal’s Trudeau and Mirabel airports said in a press release that exceptional measures were necessary as the current health crisis continues to paralyze commercial aviation.

“With the closure of Canada’s air borders continuing for nearly six months now, and in the absence of specific government assistance for a sector of activity that all international experts agree will not recover for many years, ADM Aéroports de Montréal has to make difficult decisions,” the release reads.

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The company said a drop in passenger traffic of 71 per cent compared to 2019 will lead to revenue losses of around $500 million, forcing it to reduce costs.

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“Our almost non-existent revenues are forcing us to make heart-wrenching choices that we have tried to put off for as long as possible,” said Philippe Rainville, ADM president and CEO.

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From a workforce of 600 before the novel coronavirus pandemic, ADM will retain 428 employees.

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While the company says Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program was beneficial in keeping several workers employed in recent months, changes to the program “make it too burdensome for the organization to continue to subscribe to the same extent.”

ADM’s investment budget has also been halved and as such only construction projects that are deemed necessary will go ahead.

That could put the building of the proposed Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train station at Trudeau airport in jeopardy. Montreal’s upcoming light rail network (REM) will include 67 kilometres of tracks that will link Montreal, the south shore, the West Island and the north shore.

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ADM said for now the project will continue in “planning mode” until it can secure a “tailored loan” from various levels of government.

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“In the event that we have to suspend its construction, it would be a missed opportunity for a long-awaited project to efficiently link our international airport to its city through a green and
modern infrastructure,” Rainville said.

ADM said additional cost-cutting measures were put in place in the spring, including a hiring freeze and the cancellation of salary increases.

Click to play video: 'REM construction work to finally shutter Deux-Montagnes train service'
REM construction work to finally shutter Deux-Montagnes train service

— With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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