First Air is laying off 15 of the airline's 142 pilots and flight engineers.

The affected flight crews received layoff notices earlier this month.

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First Air is laying off 15 of the airline's 142 pilots and flight engineers, including all eight Boeing 737 pilot positions based in Yellowknife. (CBC)

In a press release, the union that represents First Air's pilots said the airline gave economic reasons for the layoffs, and has not yet ruled out the possibility of more job cuts.

"These layoffs are a major blow to the pilot group and will have a ripple effect throughout the entire system," said Devin Lyall, who represents First Air pilots in the Air Line Pilots Association, International.

Lyall said the union is disappointed that all eight Boeing 737 pilot positions in Yellowknife will be eliminated and replaced by only three extra pilots at the airline's Edmonton base.

The airline also cut three Hercules aircraft crews. Lyall is one of the Hercules pilots whose jobs were cut. He was with First Air for five years and has lived in Yellowknife for 11 years with his wife and children.

"We like our jobs; we like working at First Air," he said. "A lot of us like working at Yellowknife. We're not looking to move on to Air Canada and Westjet. We want to stay here. We have families and homes and we're disappointed that so many good positions here in Yellowknife are going to be eliminated."

Jennifer Alldred, spokesperson for First Air, said the company has been scrambling with all the media requests, and was not able to provide more information.