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ANA Holdings Inc. plans to reduce its workforce in the aviation business by roughly 20% over the next five years through natural attrition to cut costs and cope with the COVID-19 crisis that has depressed travel demand, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The parent of All Nippon Airways Co. expects its number of employees in the aviation business to fall to 30,000 by March 2026 from 38,000 estimated at the end of March this year by reducing new hires and through retirements, the sources said.

The plan is the latest effort by the major airline to meet a goal of slashing costs by ¥100 billion over the five-year period. ANA Holdings estimates a record net loss of ¥510 billion in the current business year ending in March, as it is struggling to deal with a slump in passengers, with no immediate end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has already begun cutting costs to ride out the crisis, canceling both domestic and international flights and reducing its fleet, including Boeing 777s that are used for long-distance flights.

ANA normally hires around 3,000 new graduates every year. But the company is planning to hire about 700 for fiscal 2021 starting from April and about 200 for fiscal 2022. It sees about 2,000 employees leave the company every year.

Besides the aviation business, ANA runs real estate and IT businesses. Its total workforce is expected to be around 46,000 at the end of March.

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