WestJet pilots to launch strike authorization vote as negotiations fizzle

WestJet extends schedule reductions through end of March

CALGARY — WestJet has confirmed another month of schedule reductions, citing Canada’s ongoing travel and testing requirements.

The airline is extending its planned schedule consolidations by 20% through to March 31, 2022. It previously announced a 20% consolidation of flights from Feb. 1-28. Travellers will be notified of changes to their itineraries by email. Guests are encouraged to use self-serve options before calling for assistance. Flexible change and cancel guidelines and schedule change refund policies remain in place.

Said Harry Taylor, Interim President & CEO, The WestJet Group: “Travel advisories, restrictions and testing requirements were meant to be temporary, yet our industry has now reached an impasse that is severely impacting the recovery of our airline and sector. The time is now to present a path forward that is in line with our global counterparts, reflective of current data and once again makes travel accessible and affordable for Canadians.”

The federal government announced last December that it was reinstating the travel advisory against all non-essential travel on a temporary basis, though it remains in place today. Just two days later, the federal government also announced that a pre-arrival PCR test result for all travellers, including those leaving Canada for less than 72 hours, is now required.

According to WestJet, with duplicative PCR testing required for asymptomatic fully vaccinated travellers, air travel continues to be the most tested, yet most restricted consumer activity in Canada. It continues to advocate for the need to return to surveillance arrivals testing only, as well as the elimination of quarantine and isolation for travellers awaiting their results upon their return to Canada.

WestJet is also calling on the federal government to outline a roadmap for the recovery of the travel and tourism industry that is based on science and reflective of the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Canada remains the only country among the G7 nations to still require mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival PCR testing,” added Taylor. “Countries across the globe are recognizing the importance of travel and tourism on economic recovery and we are witnessing them take measures to safely reopen their borders and make sensible adjustments to overall travel guidance and testing requirements.

“It is disappointing that Canada remains stagnant in its approach and continues to make travel inaccessible and punitive for Canadians and inbound tourists.”

All of Canada’s major carriers have been forced to cancel flights or temporarily suspend destinations since the start of 2022 in the wake of the Omicron wave and the reinstated travel advisory.

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