The WestJet pilots union has called off the threat of strike action at the last minute after an agreement in principle for a new contract was reached with the Calgary-based airline.
WestJet had already started to ground planes and cancel flights in preparation for the walkout, which was set to go ahead from 3 am MST on Friday after the two sides reached a ‘critical impasse’ in sensitive contract talks.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) filed a 72-hour strike warning with WestJet management on Monday – the last step under Canada’s Labour Code before industrial action can go ahead.
WestJet’s chief executive Alexis von Hoensbroech had warned that the airline would not give into the union’s demands and that the airline would weather any stoppage “for as long as it takes” to achieve a deal that it felt was reasonable.
At the last minute, however, the two sides announced that last-ditch talks had resulted in an agreement in principle that would prevent a walkout from going ahead.
Hoensbroech described the agreement as “industry-leading within Canada” and said it “recognizes the important contributions of our valued pilots by providing meaningful improvements to job security and scope, working conditions and wages”.
“We appreciate we were able to arrive at a deal, however, recognize the impact on our guests and we sincerely appreciate their patience during this time. We are pleased to now return our focus to providing friendly, reliable and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come,” Hoensbroech continued.
Although the strike won’t now go ahead, cancellations, delays and disruption are still anticipated as WestJet reactivates its network and positions planes and crew to where they are needed.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.