WestJet Averts Strike, Reaches Tentative Agreement With Union

WestJet and Swoop are left in a frenzy to bring back hundreds of flights that were cancelled in anticipation of a pilot union strike that could have disrupted travel during the Victoria Day long weekend.

A tentative agreement was reached early Friday between WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), averting a walkout by approximately 1,800 pilots. The airline preemptively grounded flights to avoid potential logistical problems, including stranded aircraft.

“The WestJet Group is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that is industry-leading within Canada and recognizes the important contributions of our valued pilots by providing meaningful improvements to job security and scope, working conditions and wages,” announced the airline’s CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

These cancellations affected a multitude of routes both domestically and internationally, representing 30% of WestJet’s daily flights. WestJet Encore regional service and Sunwing Airlines, also owned by WestJet, weren’t subject to disruptions. However, despite the move toward normal operations, WestJet has warned that full resumption may take some time. According to Air Canada former chief operating officer Duncan Dee, it could be mid-next-week before WestJet operates at 100% capacity.

Dee used the analogy of a giant scattered jigsaw puzzle to explain the disruption whereby WestJet must reassemble numerous disrupted components and routes. “They now have a bunch of pieces that don’t fit together that they have to reassemble, so they’ve got to get that jigsaw puzzle back together. It’s going to take some time to do that.” Dee lauded WestJet’s proactive measures to avoid a major disruption, contrasting it with the ordeal faced by Southwest Airlines in December when a winter storm led to nearly 17,000 flight cancellations.

In the coming days, WestJet and the union will begin a membership vote on the agreement. Both parties express satisfaction with the proposal, with Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the WestJet ALPA master executive council, emphasizing the agreement’s significance in acknowledging the value and expertise of the pilots. The union said that the ratification of the contract would signal the pilots’ commitment to WestJet’s success and growth strategy, reversing a trend of pilots leaving WestJet for better opportunities.

Information for this briefing was found via Global News and the sources mentioned or linked. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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