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Report: AirAsia to lay off hundreds of employees due to the impact of COVID-19

South-east Asia’s largest budget airline AirAsia Berhad is set to cull hundreds more jobs as the COVID-19 virus continues to wreak economic havoc worldwide.

Local news channel Astro Awani reported unnamed sources saying the planned retrenchment was conveyed by CEO Riad Asmat during a briefing yesterday.

“This is a very difficult decision after a few months we went through a difficult period. Several hundred manpower will be laid off, no detailed figures for now,” the news agency cited a source who claimed to be quoting Riad as saying.

“Criteria (who will be laid off) will be announced later. Employees involved will be notified via email within 24 hours.”

The airline has said it would continue to provide support for affected employees “in various ways”, and had already pledged basic assistance like health care benefits and flight coupons until December 2020, Astro Awani reported.

AirAsia Group Bhd posted a net loss of RM992.89 million in the second quarter that ended June 30, against a net profit of RM17.34 million in the same quarter last year.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many countries announced lockdowns and border restrictions, the low-cost airline group’s revenue plunged by 96 per cent to RM118.96 million from RM2.92 billion previously.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, the group said 42 per cent of its revenue was contributed by cargo and logistics operations.

According to Astro Awani’s sources, Riad told AirAsia employees that the carrier has been trying its best to keep the company afloat for the past few months and promised not to deduct salaries.

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Its sister company AirAsia X had also said in a separate briefing it would cut its workforce in operations, technical and crew starting September 30, Astro Awani reported citing sources.

The process of downsizing the workforce will use the principle of “last in, first out”, the report said.

Several hundred workers will also be offered unpaid leave until the carrier “recovers”, with the company also reported to be looking at a salary review for a quarter of its staff. — Malay Mail

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