WestJet’s mechanics and technical employees have agreed to withdraw strike action and return to work while their union, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), negotiates a new contract with the company.

The Calgary-based carrier said late on 30 June that it had resumed talks with AMFA earlier in the day. Since late last week, the company was forced to park 130 of its 180 aircraft at 13 airports across Canada, and cancel “more than 800” flights over the travel-heavy Canada Day long weekend.

The maintenance workers’ strike had proceeded 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 damage to Canadians and our airline is massive, a swift resolution was necessary; we take no victory laps on this outcome but will sleep better tonight knowing further harm has been prevented,” says Diederik Pen, WestJet’s chief operating officer.

“We will see no further labour action coming out of this dispute, as both parties agree to arbitrate the contract in the case of a failed ratification.”


Source: WestJet

Carrier saw heavy disruption from the strike over the busy Canada Day weekend

WestJet, caught flat-footed when union commenced the strike, had 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. It had said that WestJet Group was not engaging in good-faith bargaining.

In a LinkedIn post, chief executive Alexis von Hoensbroech writes on 1 July, “The last three days were among the most difficult of my career.”

“More than 800 cancelled flights and 100,000 stranded guests later, we had to find a solution – and we did,” he writes. “As of this evening we reached a tentative agreement with the union representing our aircraft maintenance engineers and other technical operations employees.”

A day earlier, von Hoensbroech had written on LinkedIn that, “In my 25 years in aviation, I have never encountered such an unreasonable counterparty.”

The company will now restore operations “as swiftly as possible”.

“Given the significant impact to WestJet’s network over the past few days, returning to business-as-usual flying will take time and further disruptions over the coming week are to be anticipated as the airline gets aircraft and crew back into position,” the company adds.