LSG Sky Chefs, responsible for catering meals for airlines, will lay off 278 workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the latest in what will likely be a steady stream of mass layoffs among aviation contractors.
Demand for air travel remains severely depressed as the U.S. struggles to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. As airlines slash flight schedules to stay afloat, countless other companies — that exist solely to support commercial aviation — stand in the wake.
And while many subcontractors, from ground services to refuelers, remain hopeful their jobs will be needed once flight frequencies begin to rebound, food service remains far more uncertain as airlines attempt to mitigate onboard exposure risks.
The employees for Sky Chefs and subsidiary Western Aire Chef Inc. prepare, package and stock meals for airlines. Both companies are owned by Germany’s Lufthansa AG. The company did not return requests for comment.
The catering company experienced “a dramatic downturn in business due to COVID-19,” Jason Pearce, the company’s compliance manager for North America, wrote in its notice to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
“Given the unpredictable nature of the current global pandemic … the number of employees to be actually affected by the mass layoffs is unforeseeable,” he added.
Cuts are expected to begin Oct. 1, the first day allowed under stipulations established for aviation companies that accepted federal funds under the CARES Act.
As of July 2019, Sky Chefs employed more than 450 people at MSP.
Some of the affected workers are represented by Unite Here labor union and may exercise bumping rights.