WestJet Group and pilots reach agreement, averting strike

WestJet Group is putting aircraft back in the sky after an 11th-hour agreement with its pilots’ union averted a strike.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents pilots at WestJet and Swoop airlines, had planned to commence the strike at 3 a.m. Eastern on Friday. In preparation, WestJet Group had begun parking its mainline fleet. WestJet also canceled 31% of its flights on Thursday, FlightAware shows, and 29% of its schedule Friday. 

A larger crisis, though, was averted when leaders of WestJet’s ALPA chapter voted early Friday to approve an agreement-in-principle with the airline group, following more than nine months of negotiations on a new pilot contract. 

The agreement will be put in front of ALPA’s entire WestJet membership group in the coming days. 

“The WestJet ALPA leaders believe this contract 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,” the union said in a prepared statement. 

WestJet said that it is ramping up operations as quickly as possible, but a full resumption will take time. Those traveling on WestJet or Swoop should check their flight status before heading to the airport. 

“We appreciate we were able to arrive at a deal, however we recognize the impact on our guests and we sincerely appreciate their patience during this time,” WestJet Group CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said. “We are pleased to now return our focus to providing friendly, reliable and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come.”

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