Tentative agreement with unions allows WestJet to begin ramping up operations

WestJet and ALPA's tentative agreement will allow the airline to reduce disruption on its network
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WestJet and Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing WestJet and Swoop pilots, have reached a tentative agreement, allowing the airline to ramp up operations as soon as possible. 

The two sides came to an agreement shortly before the planned strike action on May 19, 2023, that could have included measures to ground all aircraft and effectively shut down WestJet and Swoop operations. 

“Following 8 months of negotiations, we are pleased to announce that the pilots have reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP) with WestJet. There will be NO labour action,” read a statement by WestJet ALPA Pilots on Twitter. Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WestJet, Alexis von Hoensbroech, said that the group, consisting of WestJet and Swoop, was pleased to have reached an agreement that is “industry-leading within Canada and recognizes the important contributions of our valued pilots by providing meaningful improvements to job security and scope, working conditions and wages”. 

WestJet warned that, while the group is “ramping up its operations as quickly and efficiently as possible”, it will take time for the network to be restored to full capacity. As such, passengers are encouraged to continuously check the status of their flights before traveling 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. We are pleased to now return our focus to providing friendly, reliable and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come,” von Hoensbroech added. 

ALPA issued a strike notice on May 15, 2023, with the union seeking to “negotiate a fair and equitable contract”. 

Captain Bernard Lewall, the Chair of the WestJet ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC), said at the time: “After nine months of negotiating, management still fails to understand today’s labour market conditions, leading to a mass exodus of our pilots in search of better work opportunities, and more will follow if this agreement does not meet our pilots’ needs.”  

Following the notice, WestJet initiated a lockout of its operations, arguing that the decision was “the only available option to ensure we can manage flight disruptions in a manner that allows us to proactively communicate changes to our schedule and provide advance notice of travel impacts to our guests”. 

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