Copenhagen Airport begins sending home 1,500 staff as coronavirus hits

Copenhagen Airport begins sending home 1,500 staff as coronavirus hits
Copenhagen Airport chief executive Thomas Woldby said the airport's priority at present was managing the return of overseas Danes. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
Copenhagen Airport is sending home more than half of its employees, 1,500 people, in the coming days, after air traffic ground to a near halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re currently attempting to manage an entirely unusual and grave crisis situation for the airport,”  Copenhagen Airport chief executive Thomas Woldby said in a press release issued on Tuesday morning. 
 
“This is a serious situation, and we may come to a point where we’ll have to make such big cuts that it’ll permanently damage critical infrastructure.”
 
Passenger traffic has already fallen by 70 percent in recent days and is expected to drop further in the coming days and weeks as the pandemic deepens, the company said. 
 
For now, it said, its priority was managing incoming aircraft carrying Danish citizens who have heeded the government's call to return from abroad, and managing the new border restrictions. 
 
It has decommissioned two of its three runways, and is using the space to offer parking for “a high double digit” of aircraft which airlines have taken out of operation due to the crisis.  
 
He said that as well as his 1,500 staff, a high proportion of the 22,000 to 23,000 people employed in the airport's shops, restaurants, bars and cafés were also likely to be sent home. 
 
“Many of these shops and restaurants will close temporarily over the next few days,” the company said, with just a few asked to stay open to offer passengers at the airport a minimum service.  
 
As well as staff reductions, the company has put on hold most planned investments, cutting spending by up to 700m Danish kroner ($104m). 
 
Woldby said he welcomed the actions of Denmark's government and unions to strike a deal making it easier for companies to send employees home without dismissing them. 
 
“We welcome the solution presented by the government and the labour market parties involving wage compensation for employees,” he said. “It enables us to navigate the situation by taking a longer-term view and making a dedicated effort to avoid redundancies, while the crisis persists.” 
 

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