CALGARY — WestJet has begun taking down its network, as WestJet Group prepares for labour action by WestJet and Swoop pilots.
WestJet says that pre-emptively cancelling flights ensures the airline can avoid abandoning aircraft in remote locations without support, and enables the proactive communication with passengers and crew to minimize the potential for being stranded.
The airline says its decision to cancel flights comes as the WestJet Group remains in a stalemate with the union regarding unreasonable wage expectations that if realized would permanently damage the financial viability of the group’s future.
WestJet and the ALPA are in round-the-clock negotiations as the clock ticks towards the Friday strike deadline. Yesterday WestJet’s CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said there was still a “massive gap” between the two sides.
“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 von Hoensbroech. “We remain at a critical impasse with the union and have been left with no choice but to begin taking the painful steps of preparing for the reality of a work stoppage.”
The WestJet Group is parking the majority of its 737 and 787 fleet, in a measured, phased and safe approach, he added. WestJet Encore, WestJet Link as well as limited 737 flights will continue to operate during this time
“We remain at the bargaining table, unequivocally committed to achieving a deal as soon as possible, but are equally ready to weather labour action for as long as it takes to arrive at a reasonable outcome,” said von Hoensbroech. “Any guest impact is too high of a cost in the wake of these negotiations and we sincerely apologize that valued guests were caught in the middle of an avoidable conflict.”
Passengers travelling are advised to check the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport and are asked to visit WestJet’s Guest Updates page or Swoop’s information hub for more information regarding flight status, travel changes and more.