Last Updated On 19 May 2023, 9:24 AM EDT (Toronto Time)
WestJet Strike Latest Update: After nine months, the Air Line Pilots Association announced a deal-in-principle late Thursday night at 10 pm PST.
WestJet and its pilots’ union secured a last-minute tentative agreement to avoid a strike before the May long weekend.
As of Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, the airline had cancelled 111 of its scheduled Thursday flights, or approximately one-third of its normal capacity.
Several flights scheduled for Friday and beyond have been cancelled.
Flights on key itineraries such as Calgary-Vancouver and Toronto-Calgary cannot be booked online on the company’s website until Tuesday.
The federal labour minister and the government’s chief mediator, along with WestJet’s CEO and the pilots’ union leaders, have gathered at a hotel near Toronto’s Pearson airport in an effort to reach an agreement.
WestJet released a statement early Thursday morning (May 18) indicating that they have begun cancelling flights in anticipation for the strike.
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech says they and pilots’ union remain far apart on major sticking points, including wages, as discussions heat up and a strike deadline approaches.
Given that a provisional agreement has not yet been reached, the WestJet Group is parking the majority of its 737 and 787 fleet using a “measured, phased, and safe approach,” according to the statement.
WestJet Encore, WestJet Link, and limited 737 flights will continue to operate during this period, according to the airline.
Alexis von Hoensbroech, chief executive officer of WestJet, deems the union’s demands extreme, while thousands of Canadians’ travel plans for the May long weekend are in disarray.
WestJet and Swoop pilots sent their employer a 72-hour strike notice on May 15. The airline retaliated by locking out pilots at 3 a.m. Friday (May 19), setting up a probable strike before the May 19 long weekend.
“The gap is still massive,” von Hoensbroech said Tuesday night in a video chat from the negotiation venue, a hotel north of Toronto.
Despite earning less than U.S. pilots, Hoensbroech claims that Canadian pilots are already well paid.
WestJet’s newest offer to the union would provide wide-body plane captains $350,000 in total remuneration by the conclusion of the collective agreement period. Captains of narrow-body aircraft earned $300,000.
We (INC – Immigration News Canada) will provide more updates on WestJet Strike as the situation unfolds. Check back later for latest updates.
Today on May 17, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra urged the two parties to settle, stressing a federal mediator is present in the negotiations.
“I do not want to put my finger on the scale. Obviously the airlines have obligations towards their customers. But ultimately the biggest obligation is to make sure that they deliver the service that they sold to customers.” he said.
WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have been negotiating since September, and pilots voted to strike last month giving a 72-hour notice on May 15.
The CEO said WestJet issued a lockout notice soon before midnight Monday to “control” its planes in response to the strike notice.
“If a strike hits us on short notice at a point where we don’t expect it, we may strand an airplane somewhere in the Caribbean – I don’t know where,” von Hoensbroech added. “Then we are in trouble.”
WestJet has already mentioned on their website that if flights are delayed or cancelled, guests will get an email.
WestJet Measures In Place For Affected Passengers
Air Canada and Flair Airline Response To WestJet Strike
Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, warned V.I.A. that its aircraft is fully deployed and cannot boost capacity.
The airline also has limited seats on planned flights, but its “staff are aware of the situation and are prepared to assist to the extent they can, should that be required.”
Canada’s third-largest airline, ultra-low-cost Flair Airlines, said Monday that it was “ready and willing” to increase its flight schedule to accommodate WestJet passengers.
Flair launched flights between Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary on Tuesday, starting Friday for the holiday weekend. If the strike lasts, it will boost flights to more locations.
Why is WestJet going on strike?
Canadian pilots earn 50% less than American pilots. WestJet started as a low-cost airline, but over the last 30 years it has grown into a huge carrier dependent on its personnel, prompting them to want an increase to match US carriers.
What is WestJet strike date?
WestJet and ALPA, the pilot union, struck a last-minute agreement on a second collective bargaining contract on May 18, 2023.
So, there will be no strike on Friday, May 19 at 3:00 a.m. MT.
When will WestJet strike end?
WestJet and ALPA (the union representing WestJet pilots) reached a tentative agreement on second collective bargaining contract, on May 18, 2023 in a last minute deal.