Citing a business slowdown in the wake of COVID-19, airline catering company LSG Sky Chefs is preparing to lay off 576 workers at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Ana.
The cuts are expected to take effect Oct. 1 and will affect 294 employees at Los Angeles International Airport, 210 at San Francisco International Airport and 72 at John Wayne Airport.
In a July 28 letter to state employment officials, employee relations and compliance officer Tracey Harness said the pandemic has made it difficult to accurately assess staffing needs.
“Given the unpredictable nature of the current global pandemic which is affecting the frequency and volume of flights, and in turn, the volume of business that Sky Chefs Inc. retains, the number of employees who will actually be affected by the Mass layoff is unpredictable and may change as we approach the separation date, ”she wrote.
When contacted on Friday, Harness said there would likely be fewer cuts, although she couldn’t comment on how big the cut could be.
The layoffs will impact a variety of jobs, ranging from food production coordinators, sous chefs, supply clerks and utility workers, to vehicle mechanics, storekeepers, food equipment handlers and account managers, among others.
Some of the affected employees are represented by Unite Here Local 11, while others are not unionized.
With operations at 205 airports in 53 countries, LSG Sky Chefs delivers more than 560 million meals per year.
U.S. airlines carried 73.4 million passengers in July 2021, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was well above 23.9 million in July 2020, the lowest monthly total dating back to 1974, but still 15% lower than the July 2019 total of 86.5 million.
In February 2020, a group of Sky Chefs workers held a three-day fast at LAX in an effort to earn the affordable healthcare and fair wages they said they deserved.
In a 2019 union survey of 124 of 900 LSG Sky Chefs workers then employed at Los Angeles International Airport, 27% said they had skipped or delayed medical care, prescriptions or treatment for themselves or their families because they could not afford to pay them.