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Disney places 100,000 workers on unpaid leave – plans to save US$500m a month

Walt Disney is set to stop paying more than 100,000 of its theme park and hotel workers as the entertainment giant struggles with coronavirus closures.

Disney's attractions and hotels have been shut in Europe and the US for more than five weeks now.

According to the Financial Times, the company's decision to furlough and suspend pay for almost half of its workforce could save it up to $500m (£400m, €460m) a month.

The action is expected to affect more than 70,000 workers at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida alone.

In March, Disney's executive chair Bob Iger announced he would forgo his salary for the year, with the company's new CEO Bob Chapek also taking a 50 per cent pay cut.

On 5 April, Disney also cut wages by 20 per cent for all its VP level executives, while senior VPs were handed a 25 per cent pay cut. All executive VPs and above saw a 30 per cent cut.

During the last three months of 2019, Disney made an operating income of US$1.4bn for its parks, experiences and products.

While the company's parks business has been hit hard by the COVID-19 closures, the lockdown has resulted in its online streaming site Disney+ hitting more than 50m subscribers in just five months since it was launched.

The company has rolled out the digital service in eight Western European markets since the end of March.

“We’re truly humbled that Disney+ is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International.

Walt Disney  theme park  coronavirus  furlough  Disney World  Orlando  Bob Iger  Bob Chapek  
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Walt Disney is set to stop paying more than 100,000 of its theme park and hotel workers as the entertainment giant struggles with coronavirus closures. Disney's attractions and hotels have been shut in Europe and the US for more than five weeks now. According to the Financial Times, the company's decision to furlough and suspend pay for almost half of its workforce could save it up to $500m (£400m, €460m)
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Disney's attractions and hotels have been shut in Europe and the US for more than a month / Shutterstock
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