WestJet Group is cutting its schedule this week ahead of an expected pilot strike.
The group, which includes both WestJet and Swoop, is canceling a significant part of its Friday schedule because of a planned strike by the WestJet ALPA, the union that represents the group’s pilots, which issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier this week.
According to WestJet, negotiations with the ALPA have come to a “stalemate,” particularly regarding what the company is calling “unreasonable wage expectations” from the union. WestJet pilots are pushing for a new contract with “job security and career progression,” along with better pay and scheduling, which was achieved by Delta Air Lines pilots earlier this year.
"We are extremely disheartened to find ourselves in a place where we have to activate our contingency plan and subsequent takedown of our network as a result of the strike notice served by ALPA and their inability to accept a reasonable offer. We deeply regret the disruption this will have on the travel plans of our guests and the communities and businesses that rely on our critical air service," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, Chief Executive Officer, of the WestJet Group.
WestJet is parking the “majority” of its 737 and 787 fleets, it said, though it has committed to operating “limited” 737 flights. It will also continue to operate WestJet Encore and WestJet Link flights.
Parking the fleet allows WestJet to avoid abandoning aircraft in remote locations and lets it continue “proactive communication with guests and crew to minimize the potential for being stranded.”
All of the cancellations are published on the airline’s websites. According to FlightAware, 10% of WestJet’s Friday flights have been canceled, and that number is expected to grow.