WestJet has cancelled 25 flights scheduled for 27-28 June as its maintenance workers are poised to strike during the upcoming busy Canadian air travel weekend. 

The first round of cancellations, which could begin as soon as 28 June, stand to disrupt the travel plans of some 3,300 WestJet passengers. But the carrier notes that a weekend-long strike could affect 250,000 customers.

Calgary-based WestJet is initiating the cancellations to avoid stranding customers, crew and aircraft in remote locations. 

“In the coming 48-hour period, WestJet Group will work to park aircraft in a measured, phased and safe approach,” the company said on 26 June. 


Source: WestJet Group

WestJet appears destined to experience 

The carrier narrowly avoided a maintenance workers’ strike on 20 June, after pro-actively cancelling about 40 flights two days prior. WestJet’s management and Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) then returned to the bargaining table – only to have negotiations fall apart once again. 

The union issued a strike notice “less than one day into the parties’ mutual agreement to return to the bargaining table across four days”, WestJet says. The carrier claims to have presented a “revised industry-leading offer” to boost maintenance worker pay 22% over a four-year period. 

“As we quickly approach the July long weekend, it is especially devastating that the strike notice we have received from AMFA forces us to begin cancelling flights and parking aircraft for the second time in just over a week,” says Diederik Pen, WestJet’s chief operating officer. 

The maintenance workers’ union is seeking a contract with enhanced compensation, benefits and quality of life measures. Its recently submitted strike notice was issued ”in the hope that it will prompt WestJet to provide its employees with a good faith offer”, AMFA says. 

”AMFA served a strike notice in direct response to WestJet refusal to bargain,” it adds. 

WestJet Group recently went through a similarly acrimonious process with its regional pilots, as the flight deck crews for WestJet Encore ratified a new five-year contract on a second attempt – and only after threatening strike action that could have disrupted the carrier’s passenger operations.