WestJet Group, which includes the WestJet and Swoop airlines, and the Air Lines Pilot Association (ALPA) announced that a tentative agreement had been struck on Friday to avoid a pilot strike.
Labour action was set to take place starting at 3 a.m. on May 19, following a protracted negotiation that had lasted months.
“After months of tough negotiations with management, we are pleased to announce a Agreement-In-Principle that goes a long way to recognizing the value and expertise we bring to our airline every day,” said Captain Bernard Lewall, Chair of the WestJet ALPA Master Executive Council.
“This contract will also help solve many of WestJet’s pilot attraction and retention issues, benefiting everyone involved from our company to our passengers and fellow employees.”
The pilots had been negotiating for wages that matched the average for North American pilots, and work-life balance accommodations that they said had fallen behind other what other airlines have offered over the past several years.
WestJet said they appreciated the patience that guests had shown during the lead-up to potential labour action. The airline says they are currently ramping their operations back up, after announcing on May 18 that they were beginning to park aircraft pending a strike.
“We appreciate we were able to arrive at a deal, however, recognize the impact on our guests and we sincerely appreciate their patience during this time. We are pleased to now return our focus to providing friendly, reliable and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of the WestJet Group.
“The WestJet Group is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that is industry-leading within Canada and recognizes the important contributions of our valued pilots by providing meaningful improvements to job security and scope, working conditions and wages.”
If ratified by WestJet ALPA members, the contract would be the second passed for the pilots. Their first contract, made in 2018, was a result of binding arbitration.