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Summit Air to lay off 45 employees as a result of COVID-19 slowdown

Yellowknife-headquartered airline Summit Air has announced it will be laying off over a quarter of its workforce due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Affected employees are located in Yellowknife, Edmonton and Calgary

A Twin Otter operated by Summit Air. The Yellowknife-based airline announced Friday that it will lay off 45 of its approximately 170 employees due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. (Summit Air)

Yellowknife-headquartered airline Summit Air has announced it will be laying off over a quarter of its workforce due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release Friday, the airline announced that 45 of its 170 employees will be leaving on "temporary involuntary leaves." The layoffs impact all aspects of the business, including management, flight crews, administration, and mechanics.

The affected employees are located in Yellowknife, Edmonton and Calgary, the company said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the temporary closure or reduced operation of many of our customers' businesses and operations, resulting in significant reductions in Summit Air's revenue and flying hours," Chief operating officer Lane Zirnhelt said in the release. 

"To preserve our business for the future we made the difficult decision to cut operating costs in the short term."

The release notes that operations of Summit Air's sister company, Summit Helicopters, are not impacted by the announcement.

Summit Air is the second northern airline to announce major layoffs in the last two days, with Whitehorse-based Air North announcing Thursday that it would lay off more than half its employees.

Last week, Yellowknife-based Air Tindi announced it would lay off approximately 45 of its employees.

In the release, Zirnhelt noted that the company's business model remains strong, and that Summit Air hopes "to be fully operational again once our clients resume their work."

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