Latin America's biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM announced plans to lay off at least 2,700 crew to cope with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Latin America’s biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM, said Friday it was laying off at least 2,700 crew to cope with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry.

LATAM said it had failed to reach a deal with the aviation workers’ union on reducing pay, and would therefore lay off pilots and flight attendants to keep the struggling company afloat.

The layoffs amount to more than a third of the airline’s total crew.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health crisis in history, and is dramatically affecting the entire world aviation industry,” the company said in a statement.

It will offer a voluntary departure plan until Tuesday, then begin laying people off if necessary, it said.

It said crew pay at LATAM was above average for the region, and that “the current crisis has made it more essential than ever” to reduce its wage bill.

The airline filed for bankruptcy in the United States in May, after worldwide stay-at-home measures to contain the virus forced it to reduce its operations by 95 percent.