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Sunday,  July 14, 2024 2:43 AM 

WestJet cancels flights ahead of mechanics' strike

  • Air
  •   06-19-2024  7:30 am
  •   Pax Global Media

WestJet cancels flights ahead of mechanics' strike
(WestJet Group)
Pax Global Media

The WestJet Group has started cancelling and consolidating flights in anticipation of its aircraft maintenance engineers and other tech ops employees going on strike.

Between Tuesday (June 18) and Wednesday (June 19), roughly 40 cancellations are expected, affecting around 6,500 travellers.

WestJet said it is “making every effort to reaccommodate all impacted guests.”

The airline said in a statement the decision was made “in order to park aircraft in a safe and organized manner.”

“This action enables proactive communication with guests and crew to minimize the potential for being stranded and ensures the airline can avoid abandoning aircraft in remote locations,” it continued.

WestJet mechanics served the airline with a 72-hour strike notice on Monday (June 17) and said they were ready to walk off the job as early as Thursday night.

According to Global News, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), which represents some 670 of the carrier’s skilled-trade employees, said it decided to provide notice after WestJet cut off talks earlier this week.

The decision to cancel flights comes after WestJet asked the federal labour minister on Monday to refer negotiations to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

If accepted, WestJet and AMFA would be referred to arbitration for a first collective agreement and prevent labour action by either party.

“We are immensely disheartened that we are in a position where we must activate our contingency plan and begin parking aircraft, as a result of the strike notice served by AMFA,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and group chief operating officer. “We deeply regret the disruption this will have on the travel plans of our guests, communities and businesses that rely on our critical air service.”

The union’s members voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative agreement last week.

AMFA also noted it opposes the attempt at arbitration, saying it would undermine the members’ goal of an “industry-changing contract.”

“Following the memberships’ nearly unanimous decision to reject a generous tentative agreement that would have made our aircraft maintenance engineers the highest paid in the country, with a take-home pay increase of 30 to 40 per cent in the first year of the proposed agreement,” said Pen, “it is clear that the bargaining process has broken down.”

“We will continue to manage our operations to the highest degree of safety and will never compromise in this area,” Pen continued.

Guests travelling are advised to check the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport.

Visit WestJet’s guest updates page for more information regarding flight status and travel changes.

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