A second attempt at ratifying a new contract between WestJet Encore’s pilot union and WestJet Group successfully ended an acrimonious period of negotiations that nearly disrupted the carrier’s regional operations. 

The five-year collective bargaining agreement was ratified on 13 June, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the union representing Encore’s pilots. Nearly 80% of the pilots who cast ballots voted in favour of the agreement. 

Effective immediately, the contract is retroactive to 1 January and runs through the end of 2028. 

WestJet Encore

Source: WestJet Group/X

WestJet Encore operates a fleet of De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s out of Calgary International airport. 

WestJet had been negotiating a new contract for pilots with its regional carrier since September 2023, and negotiations had seemingly fallen apart as recently as last month. 

A tentative deal was struck on 30 May, shortly before a lockout notice and a pilots’ strike threatened to disrupt Encore’s network. Both actions were due to begin on 1 June. 

The union and WestJet had been engaged in a two-week period of negotiations following the union’s rejection of a tentative contract earlier in May. That deal was rejected by 53% of participating Encore pilots, who were “underwhelmed by WestJet Group’s attempts at using compensation to gloss over many of the core structural issues of the operation”, ALPA said.

Carin Kenny, chair of ALPA’s WestJet Encore pilot group, calls the deal’s ratification “a step toward our company and our pilots working together to put the airline in a more-competitive position”.

“Since negotiations began, we were clear that to attract new pilots to the WestJet Group and retain the ones currently flying for the airline, we needed a contract that provides competitive compensation, improved scheduling flexibility and a level of career progression,” he adds.