The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced 1Aviation Groundhandling Services Corp. (1AV) to cut over 400 jobs.

“It was a painful decision. We had to let go of over 400 newly hired employees,” 1AV Human Resources Head Gilbert D. Enriquez said in a phone message on Thursday.

The company said the government’s travel restrictions and the “severe decline” in demand for air travel have had a significant effect on its operations.

“Because of these factors, 1AV was forced to scale down its operations. This step is on top of measures previously undertaken, such as project and capex freeze, hiring freeze, overtime restriction, and deferment of salary increases,” the ground-handling services provider said in a statement.

“As such, 1AV has made the very hard decision not to process the regularization of our probationary employees,” it added.

The company said it has given its over 400 employees “a package equivalent to two months’ pay, which is more than what the law requires.”

Those workers will also be given priority in the hiring once the business picks up in the future, the company said further.

In 2018, Cebu Air, Inc., the listed operator of Cebu Pacific, sold 60% of its shares in the ground-handling services company to Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. (PAGSS), led by Mr. Jefferson G. Cheng. — Arjay L. Balinbin