WestJet ramping up after reaching deal with pilots, but warns it will take time
May 19, 2023 By The Canadian Press
CALGARY — The WestJet Group says it’s ramping up operations as quickly as possible after reaching a last-minute deal with the airline’s pilots to avert a strike.
However, it warns that the full resumption of operations will take time and encouraged travellers to continue to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.
WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association announced a tentative agreement to avoid the job action early Friday morning.
The airline had grounded the bulk of its fleet Thursday, including for its Swoop subsidiary, ahead of the strike deadline.
The shutdown affected dozens of routes within Canada and to the U.S. and overseas, while flights at the WestJet Encore regional service and the WestJet-owned Sunwing Airlines were unaffected.
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said the agreement with the pilots provides “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,” he said.
Bernard Lewall, who heads the Air Line Pilots Association’s WestJet contingent, had said the workers’ issues revolved around pay, job security and scheduling, with pilots earning roughly half of what some of their U.S. counterparts make.
In a statement, Lewall said union leaders believe the tentative deal “delivers on the goals of better job security, enhanced compensation, and more flexible schedules to allow for a better work/life balance consistent with collective agreements other ALPA-represented pilot groups are signing with their employers.”
“This contract will also help solve many of WestJet’s pilot attraction and retention issues, benefiting everyone involved from our company to our passengers and fellow employees.”
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