CanJet is laying off 27 of its 44 staff in Halifax.

Peter Baxter of CUPE said they were set to start contract negotiations next week, but that will be postponed until August because of the layoffs announced Tuesday and effective June 3.

“There were rumours (but) we were quite surprised with regards to the size of the downsizing,” Baxter said Thursday.

“We are very disappointed with the approach the company is taking — namely to target some of its most senior and loyal workers,” he added.

Airline owner Ken Rowe said the employees are being offered transfers to jobs with the company in Central Canada.

He said more flights are being operated from Central Canada, making the Halifax base less feasible.

“The business we’re now conducting, all of our aircraft are pretty-well based in cities other than Halifax,” Rowe said in an interview.

Baxter said he doubted there would be anything other than charter flights departing Halifax this summer.