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Tentative agreement with unions allows WestJet to begin ramping up operations

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WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union that represents WestJet and Swoop pilots, have come to a tentative agreement that will enable the airline to resume full operations as quickly as possible.

The agreement was reached shortly before the planned strike on May 19, 2023, which could have resulted in all airplanes being grounded, effectively shutting down WestJet and Swoop operations.

In a statement on Twitter, WestJet ALPA Pilots announced that after eight months of negotiations, they have reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP) with WestJet, with no labor action. The CEO of WestJet, Alexis von Hoensbroech, said that the group was pleased to have reached an agreement that is “industry-leading within Canada,” providing significant improvements to job security, working conditions, and wages, and recognizing the valuable contributions of the pilots.

Although the group is ramping up its operations as efficiently as possible, it will take time for the network to be restored to full capacity. As such, WestJet advised passengers to continuously check their flight statuses before heading to the airport.

The ALPA initially issued a strike notice on May 15, 2023, with the aim of “negotiating a fair and equitable contract.” Captain Bernard Lewall, the Chair of the WestJet ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC), stated that the airline’s management did not fully comprehend current labor market conditions, resulting in many pilots leaving for better work opportunities.

Before the agreement, WestJet initiated a lockout of its operations, claiming that it 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.” Now that an agreement has been reached, WestJet is focused on providing friendly, reliable, and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come, with an appreciation for their patience during the disruption.

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