WestJet pilots could strike on Friday — here's how travellers could be impacted

May 16 2023, 2:16 pm

WestJet pilots have issued a 72-hour strike notice to the airline’s management, presenting looming disruptions to long weekend travel plans.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced the strike notice on Monday evening, starting the clock on a three-day countdown for contract negotiations before pilots can legally walk out.

“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,” said Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the ALPA WestJet master executive council, in a statement.

“Without the economic and job security improvements our pilots require, WestJet will be parking planes, as they will not have enough pilots to operate them or accomplish its own growth strategy.”

The union representing WestJet pilots says that it plans to begin the strike at 3 am ET on Friday, May 19.

In response to this, Canada’s second-largest airline issued a lockout notice to the ALPA early Tuesday morning. This means a work stoppage could occur as early as Friday, May 19 at 3 am 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 CEO, in a statement.

How will this affect Victoria Day long weekend travel plans?

The ALPA says its job action could include grounding all aircraft and effectively shutting down operations.

In case the strike, and a work stoppage does happen, WestJet says it’ll take “all necessary actions” to manage impacts on travellers, which includes:

  • 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.

The airline says that guests affected by possible flight delays or cancellations will be refunded or re-accommodated.

Travellers should keep an eye on their emails, as that’s where they’ll be notified by WestJet or Swoop of any changes to their flight itinerary.

Guests who booked through a travel agent or online booking agency are advised to contact them directly.

Passengers can find updates on flight status, travel changes, and more on WestJet’s Guest Updates page or Swoop’s information hub.

This news comes after WestJet pilots voted overwhelmingly in support of a job strike last month.

Approximately 1,600 WestJet pilots participated in the strike action vote, and 93% voted in favour of one.

Isabelle DoctoIsabelle Docto

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