AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France-KLM <AIRF.PA>, plans to slash up to 2,000 jobs and ask for government support as it cuts working hours by one-third for its entire staff amid the global coronavirus outbreak, the company said on Friday.
CEO Pieter Elbers said in a videotaped statement the company will cut 1,500-2,000 jobs and KLM will scrap 30% or more of all flights in the second quarter of 2020.
KLM has a workforce of 35,000.
“With all the uncertainty and a growing number of countries closing their air space, I don’t know whether the scenario of a 30% or 40% decline (in flights) might not be too optimistic,” he said. “We could see a scenario like Italy, in which the whole system shuts down.”
Airlines around the world are grappling with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimating global costs would exceed $100 billion.
KLM’s measures come as it faces government-imposed restrictions on flying to the United States, China and Italy. Details of Friday’s plan were first reported by Dutch broadcaster RTL.
Earlier on Friday, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government was ready to support KLM and the Dutch aviation industry.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)