WestJet’s maintenance workers have called off a strike that disrupted the airline’s normal operations earlier this week.

The Calgary-headquartered carrier said on 20 June that it was returning to the negotiating table with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) after the union rescinded its strike notice. It had set to begin labour action later in the day. 

On 18 June, the airline had pro-actively cancelled about 40 flights affecting 6,500 customers in anticipation of the strike, and to ensure that no customers, crew or aircraft were stranded in remote locations.


Source: WestJet / Twitter

WestJet was anticpating flight disruption from the planned strike

WestJet also says it appeared before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to discuss the airline’s request for arbitration but that the board “advised it will require additional time and submissions from both parties before making a decision on whether or not collective bargaining for our first agreement should be resolved by way of arbitration”.

“We recognise the impact the initial cancellations had on our guests and our people, and we sincerely appreciate their patience and understanding during this time,” says Diederik Pen, chief operating officer at WestJet.

“In returning to the bargaining table, we are committed to finding a resolution to avoid further disruption to our operations.”

In a video message to customers on 19 June, Pen had said that the company had “demonstrated its commitment to the collective bargaining process” by successfully negotiating and ratifying five collective bargaining agreements in the past two years.

One of those was a deal reached with WestJet Encore pilots last week, ending an acrimonious dispute that nearly disrupted the carrier’s regional operations. The five-year agreement was ratified on 13 June, as 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.

After nine months of negotiation with AMFA, a tentative agreement had been reached that would have made the maintenance engineers “the highest paid in the country”, Pen says in the video. But that deal was recently rejected by a majority of the union members.