Malaysia's AirAsia looks to lay off staff - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's flagship budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd AIRA.KL are looking at laying off hundreds of employees, as it sought to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency Bernama reported on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: AirAsia planes are seen parked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sepang, Malaysia April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Both its Malaysian unit and long-haul arm, AirAsia X Bhd AIRX.KL plan to cut some hundreds of staff each, Bernama reported, citing a source who attended separate town hall sessions held by both units on Monday.

AirAsia did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Affected staff will be informed within 72 hours, and AirAsia Malaysia will provide them assistance such as medical benefits and flight coupon redemptions year-end.

Chief Executive Officer Riad Asmat said the airline group had reached out to the government but had not received any feedback.

Those retrenched will then be rehired once the airline rides through the pandemic. Remaining staff will not have to take pay cuts.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X will undergo a wider retrenchment exercise involving technical staff and cabin crew, on a “last in, first out” basis.

“I don’t know when we will be flying. We thought it is for the best to retrench and we hope we give certainty to the people,” Chief Executive Officer Benyamin Ismail said.

Salaries will be reviewed, and some staff would be offered unpaid leave, likely for a six-month period or until the situation improved, Bernama reported.

AirAsia Malaysia’s layoffs would be completed by the end of this month, while affected AirAsia X staff will be leaving end of October.

Reporting by Liz Lee, editing by Louise Heavens