WestJets operations over the long Canada Day weekend have been massively disrupted by striking mechanics, forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights and disrupt the air travel plans of thousands of passengers. 

The carrier cancelled more than 340 flights on 30 June alone, while regional arm WestJet Encore has cancelled a further 80, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. 

That follows 248 and 43 flight cancellations for WestJet and Encore, respectively, on 29 June. 

WestJet called the cancellations “a result of the union’s blatant efforts to disrupt the travel plans of thousands of Canadians over July long weekend”. 


Source: Shutterstock

WestJet has been parking aircraft all weekend as a maintenance workers’ strike wreaks havoc on its network 

The maintenance workers’ strike went forward despite intervention from Seamus O’Regan Jr, Canada’s minister of labour, who had directed the Canada Industrial Relations Board to help WestJet Group and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association settle on a new collective agreement. 

”The airline acknowledges the minister’s direction to secure industrial peace, and AMFA has confirmed they will abide by the direction,” WestJet said on 27 June. ”Given this, a strike or lockout will not occur and the airline will no longer proceed in cancelling flights.” 

WestJet, caught flat-footed when union commenced the strike, said it was “outraged” that the action moved forward despite the minister of labour’s order for arbitration. 

The union is seeking a contract with enhanced compensation, benefits and quality of life measures, and maintains that WestJet Group has yet to engage in good-faith bargaining. 

The total weekend-long impact of the strike is unclear, though WestJet says hundreds of cancellations are necessary “to maintain stability across its remaining operation”. 

It previously estimated that some 250,000 air travellers could experience disruptions if the strike continues all weekend. 

“Today has been incredibly challenging for all of us at WestJet,” Diedrik Pen, WestJet’s chief operating officer, said on 29 June. ”Every flight cancellation we are forced to issue represents hundreds of guests, who are being impacted by the continued reckless actions of this union.” 

The Calgary-based carrier will keep parking aircraft through 30 June and expects flight cancellations to continue into next week.

Pen anticipates that the strike will “inflict significant costs on our business”.