WestJet pilots call in the strike at the last minute

WestJet pilots were supposed to take a 72-hour strike starting this morning, which would have been the first such strike among North American pilots in a long time. However, it was canceled at the last minute.

WestJet and the pilots reach a tentative agreement

Early this morning, it was announced that the WestJet Group and the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) have reached an agreement in principle for a new contract for WestJet pilots. Both parties are now waiting to roll out the membership confirmation vote, which should happen in the coming days.

Here’s how WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech describes the agreement:

“The WestJet Group is pleased to have reached an industry-leading preliminary agreement within Canada and appreciates the important contributions of our valued pilots by providing meaningful improvements to job security, range, working conditions and wages. We appreciate that we were able to strike a deal, however, we recognize the impact this has on our guests and sincerely appreciate Their patience during this time. We are pleased to now return our focus to providing Canadians with friendly, reliable and affordable air service for years to come.”

Meanwhile, here’s what Barnard Lewell, WestJet ALPA President, said:

“This deal introduces goals for improved job security, improved compensation, and more flexible schedules to allow for a better work-life balance consistent with collective agreements that other pilot groups representing ALPA sign with employers. This contract will also help solve many of their attraction and retention issues. WestJet pilots, benefiting all involved from our company to passengers and fellow employees.”

While it’s great to call off the blow, it’s only fair that a lot of the damage has already been done. The airline has already begun canceling several flights on Thursday, in preparation for the strike. WestJet is now working to restore its schedule, although that won’t be an immediate process.

WestJet pilots called off their planned strike

I am curious to know the details of this agreement

Quite a few airline unions are currently working on new contracts, and negotiations are pretty tense. Until yesterday, WestJet management and the pilots’ union seemed like two worlds apart.

WestJet claimed it was offering pilot salaries of up to $300,000 for narrow-body captains and up to $350,000 for wide-body (CAD) captains, before overtime and other allowances. Meanwhile, the union alleged that pilots were working at a “significant discount” compared to what pilots were paid in the United States, claiming that on average they only earned 45%. They believed that their salaries should closely match the pay scales in the United States.

This is a very basic disagreement. While I can appreciate WestJet pilots looking at US airline pilot salaries, admittedly the economy and currencies are a little different in the US versus Canada. I haven’t seen details of the new agreement yet, so I’m curious what exactly that looks like.

It’s not uncommon for both sides to play a strong ball before meeting in the middle at the end, and I suspect that’s what happened here.

I’m curious about the agreement WestJet and ALPA have


WestJet pilots called off their strike at the last minute, even though several flights had already been cancelled. The airline will begin to gradually restore its schedule now, and in the coming days pilots will vote on a new contract.

There seem to be some major disagreements between management and the union, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the final contract looks like. These types of contracts always set a precedent for other airlines, so I’m sure Air Canada is paying close attention as well. 😉

What do you think about canceling the WestJet test strike?

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