By Alexander Cornwell and Saeed Azhar

DUBAI (Reuters) – Emirates Group’s airport services subsidiary dnata is laying off some employees and has placed thousands of others on unpaid leave after a large drop in business during the coronavirus pandemic, industry and company sources said.

Dnata, which employs 45,000 globally across its airport and travel services divisions, this month reported a 57% fall in annual profit after the pandemic shredded travel demand.

The business, which along with Emirates airline is an asset of Dubai state company Emirates Group, provides airport services at 95 airports in 15 countries and catering services at 60 locations in 12 countries.

Two sources said the company was making a number of jobs redundant at Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum, while three sources said that thousands of employees had been placed on unpaid leave around the world.

A company spokesman told Reuters that a “very substantial number” of staff had been placed on unpaid leave and that some employees have been laid off. Neither the spokesman nor the sources said how many employees had been affected.

Many of dnata’s operations are generating zero income as a result of the pandemic and the company has had to take “difficult steps” to adjust its business model for an uncertain future, the spokesman said.

Al Maktoum, which handles a fraction of Dubai’s annual passenger traffic, has closed its passenger terminal temporarily. Emirates airline, meanwhile, has shifted cargo operations to Dubai airport from Al Maktoum.

Dnata warned this month that it would review its operations in Australia after it was excluded from the Australian government’s wage subsidy scheme because of the company’s foreign ownership. Dnata said the exclusion put 4,500 jobs at risk.

Emirates has been promised state aid by the Dubai government, which the company has said would allow it to “preserve its skilled workforce”.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell & Saeed Azhar; Editing by David Goodman)