Both parties remain at the bargaining table as negotiations continue
CALGARY, AB, May 15, 2023 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group today has issued a lockout notice to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union that represents WestJet and Swoop pilots, in response to their strike notification. A work stoppage could occur as early as Friday, May 19, 2023, at 3 a.m. MT.
“The decision to issue a lockout notice, in response to the actions taken by the union today, was not one that was made lightly, and we sincerely regret the inconvenience and uncertainty this continues to cause for our guests,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, WestJet Group, Chief Executive Officer. “It is our responsibility to ensure the safety and complete control of our network at all times, to minimize the risk of stranding our guests, our crews and our aircraft. Our commitment and priority remains at the bargaining table, where we will continue to work around the clock to come to a reasonable agreement as soon as possible, in an effort to prevent labour action.”
Issuing notice does not mean a work stoppage will occur. However, in the coming days, the WestJet Group will take all necessary actions to manage the impacts as much as possible, including:
- Beginning preparations to operate a reduced schedule – unfortunately, this will be a significant reduction from WestJet and Swoop’s current networks.
- Proactively managing changes and cancellations, to ensure the ability to communicate with guests in advance of changes.
- Providing flexible change and cancel options for those who wish to make alternate arrangements.
Throughout negotiations, the WestJet Group has brought forward a generous contract that if agreed to will make its first officers and captains the highest paid narrow-body pilots in Canada, with a significant advantage over the next best paying Canadian airline. Furthermore, the proposed contract makes generous advancements to address the concerns of WestJet and Swoop pilots surrounding job security and scope. Despite efforts to be reasonable and provide significant improvements to the current contract, the union maintains its expectation of closing in towards U.S.–like wages, despite living and working in Canada. This expectation is not reasonable and is impeding the WestJet Group’s ability to reach an agreement in advance of the upcoming long weekend.
“We truly value the work and contributions of our pilots. We believe with a commitment from both parties, an agreement is achievable and are committed to offering pilots a competitive collective agreement with meaningful improvements for the Canadian market, whilst remaining competitive at the same time,” concluded von Hoensbroech.
Should flight delays or cancellations occur, impacted guests will be refunded or reaccommodated, as applicable.
For guests who booked directly with WestJet or Swoop, changes to existing travel will be directly communicated via the email available on file. Guests who booked through a travel agent or online booking agency, are asked to contact them directly.
In 27 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 110 destinations in 24 countries.
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SOURCE WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership