Kuwait Airways (KU, Kuwait) will be laying off almost 1,500 expatriate employees due to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its commercial operations.

The airline said on May 28 that the layoff was part of its comprehensive plan to turn its finances around. “This difficult decision came due to the great difficulties that the company is facing in particular and the global aviation sector in general,” the airline said and thanked staff for their efforts.

The loss-making airline suspended flights from March 12 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, although it operated some 200 repatriation flights in April and May to bring back 30,000 Kuwaitis from abroad, Arab News reported. The airline employs approximately 7,000 people and had hoped to hire another 1,000 this year, according to Gulf News.

Kuwait Airways’ most recent full-year financial figures show the airline made a loss of KD131.9 million dinars (USD435 million), according to financials obtained by FlightGlobal.

Other Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) and Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l), are expected to announce job losses as the coronavirus pandemic devastates its airline sector.

On April 23, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the coronavirus crisis could result in Kuwait losing two million passengers from and to the country, resulting in a USD1 billion revenue loss, risking 24,100 jobs and USD1.6 billion in contribution to Kuwait’s economy. It added that the Middle East region’s airlines could lose USD24 billion of passenger revenue compared to 2019.