Disney furloughs 100,000 workers as theme parks remain closed

Disney

Disney has now furloughed 100,000 workers as its theme parks in America have been closed for over a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC News reports that staff members at Walt Disney World were the worst hit, with 70,000 theme park and hotel workers furloughed. Disney will pay for healthcare benefits for US employees on unpaid leave, reports the FT.

17,000 staff at Disneyland Paris have also been placed in France’s reduced hours/furlough scheme, on which the government pays up to 84 per cent of their net salary.

Slow recovery until vaccine

These 100,000 staff members are about half of the Disney theme park and resort workforce. This is expected to save the company around $500 million a month in salaries. This will be much needed as the company tries to weather the coronavirus climate.

There are serious concerns about how long it will take Disney and other theme park operators will take to recover. UBS analyst John Hodulik suggests that the parks may not be able to reopen until January 2021, according to Market Watch. And even when they reopen, it could take a minimum of 18 months for the parks to “regain their recent operating cadence”, and that is only if the earliest expectations of a vaccine are met.

Hodulik said that “the economic recession plus the need for social distancing, new health precautions, the lack of travel and crowd aversion are likely to make this business less profitable until there is a widely available vaccine.”

In a recent interview, former CEO Bob Iger has said that he is taking a more active role in running Disney again to help the company through this crisis.

Iger has also been recruited onto California’s economic taskforce responding to COVID-19.