WestJet pilots vote overwhelmingly to strike

WestJet pilots vote overwhelmingly to strike

However, ALPA has agreed to hold off on a strike until after the May long weekend as the collective bargaining continues to ensure travel plans are not affected.

ALPA said pilots hope to avoid taking any lawful job action, and negotiations will restart next week.

About 95 per cent of WestJet's 1,500 pilots voted.

"We respect the outcome of this vote and recognize the mandate WestJet pilots have given ALPA", Sims said in a statement.

WestJet and the union are nearing the end of a 21-day cooling off period, with pilots able to start any job action from May 19.

In an email to TravelPulse Canada, WestJet Vice President Lyell Farquharson said it's "no surprise that the union got the right to strike".

About 150 union pilots gathered in Calgary May 8 to demonstrate during WestJet's annual general meeting.

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Air Canada Thursday afternoon (May 10) issued another statement, saying that it has added capacity on transcontinental routes by "upgauging" aircraft on popular routes, including those between Toronto and Vancouver and Vancouver and Calgary.

Without a deal in place with current employee groups, the airline is hiring many pilots from outside of Canada-including many Canadian nationals, it said.

"There has to be an agreement between us and the [WestJet] executive about who is going to be flying those airplanes", said David Colquhoun, a member of the union's negotiating team, during an interview "Right now there is nothing written down that says it is going to be WestJet pilots, but our pilots have overwhelmingly told us they expect to be flying those airplanes".

He said the promise to keep flying over the long weekend was a goodwill gesture - not only to the company, but also to the guests.

The threat of a strike has hit bookings, Sims said, forcing the carrier to revise second-quarter RASM guidance downward, and pause any longer-term guidance projections.

WestJet pilots are unhappy that the airline is outsourcing pilot jobs for their ultra low-priced subsidiary SWOOP, in order to cut costs even further. With our flexible and diverse fleet, we will continue adjusting capacity where possible to limit disruptions for people travelling.

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