WestJet, the second-largest airline in Canada, has announced that it reached a tentative agreement with its pilots union, Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), one day after canceling nearly 100 flights in anticipation of a strike. The union had informed WestJet on Monday that 1,800 pilots would stop work starting early Friday morning if an agreement was not reached by Thursday evening. This announcement came as Canada began a long holiday weekend, with travelers concerned about their travel plans.
“Ramping up” operations as quickly as possible
In a statement released on Friday, WestJet said it was “ramping up its operations as quickly and efficiently as possible,” but warned that “full resumption of operations will take time.” The tentative agreement comes after negotiations between the company and the union, aimed at bringing pilots’ contracts in line with salary increases seen at some American companies. The details of the agreement have not yet been released, but WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said that the deal was “industry-leading within Canada” and provided “meaningful improvements to job security and scope, working conditions and wages.”
Significant improvements in pay
According to Captain Bernie Lewall, chair of the ALPA’s WestJet branch, the four-year deal was reached at 12:30 am and represented “significant” improvements in pay. “For the past several years, we have unfortunately been nothing more than a training ground for pilots looking to leave for better opportunities,” Lewall said in a statement. “This contract will change that and make WestJet a career destination once again.” The agreement will now be put to a union vote for ratification.
WestJet represents nearly a third of domestic air travel market
With more than 16,700 flights scheduled for the month of June, WestJet represents nearly a third of Canada’s domestic air travel market, while AirCanada controls about half. Although the strike has been averted, the cancellations and uncertainty have caused inconvenience to passengers and highlighted the importance of airline labor negotiations. WestJet has expressed its appreciation for its passengers’ patience during this time.
WestJet has reached a tentative deal with its pilots union to avoid a strike that could have caused significant disruption to air travel. The agreement provides meaningful improvements to job security, working conditions, and wages and will make WestJet a career destination for pilots once again. While the details of the agreement have not been released, WestJet has stated that it is “ramping up” operations as quickly as possible, but that it will take time for full resumption of operations. With WestJet representing nearly a third of Canada’s domestic air travel market, the agreement is an important step in ensuring the smooth functioning of the airline industry.
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