WestJet cancels over 400 flights amid mechanics’ strike action

WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-700 aircraft
Robin Guess / Shutterstock

Over 400 flights were canceled, impacting more than 49,000 passengers in Canada, due to an ongoing dispute between WestJet Airlines, the country’s second-largest airline, and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the union representing the airline’s aircraft maintenance engineers.

WestJet’s announcement that the AMFA had withdrawn its strike notice last week, with both parties “jointly agreeing to return to the bargaining table to continue to work towards finding a resolution,” did not suffice to prevent further disruptions to flight operations.

The strike action by the AMFA, which started on late June 28, caused mass flight disruptions over the Canada Day weekend. According to a WestJet statement, the aircraft mechanics’ strike forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights across its network.

“As a result of the union’s blatant efforts to disrupt the travel plans of thousands of Canadians over the July long weekend, WestJet has canceled a total of 407 flights to maintain stability across its remaining operations,” the carrier wrote.

The airline warned its passengers that it had “safely reduced” its operating fleet to around 30 aircraft. The carrier also stated that some disruptions will persist until July 2, 2024.
To minimize flight disruptions, WestJet Airlines requested prompt intervention from the Minister of Labour and the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

“Every flight cancellation we are forced to issue represents hundreds of guests who are being impacted by the continued reckless actions of this union,” Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer, said in the statement.

“In the face of immense adversity, our teams are working hard and delivering a safe and controlled operation,” Pen concluded.

Approximately 670 WestJet aircraft mechanics were set to strike at 7:00 p.m. local time on June 20 after notifying the airline of their intentions earlier that week. However, the strike was called off following an agreement between the airline and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) to return to the bargaining table.

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