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ALPA: WestJet Encore pilots ratify new contract with wage increases that ‘set a new standard’

By Skies Magazine | June 14, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 42 seconds.

WestJet Encore pilots have ratified a new five-year contract that secures pay raises and more flexible schedules that enable better work/life balance, their union says.

The new contract goes into effect immediately and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2024, said the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), the world’s largest airline pilot union.

“The ratification of this contract is a step toward our company and our pilots working together to put the airline in a more competitive position,” said Capt Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore ALPA Master Executive Council.

“Since negotiations began, we were clear that to attract new pilots to the WestJet Group and retain the ones currently flying for our airline, we needed a contract that provides competitive compensation, improved scheduling flexibility, and a level of career progression.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but ALPA said the pay increases, “set a new standard for regional pilots.”

WestJet Encore is the regional subsidiary of WestJet, operating De Havilland Q400 turboprop aircraft to smaller cities. In the past, working at the regional airline was seen as a first step toward successful career with WestJet Group, the union said.

That reality shifted in the last several years, when the airline has been, “little more than a training ground for pilots who choose to take their experience and fly elsewhere,” said ALPA.

This new contract brings an apparent end to months-long posturing that included a 72-hour strike notice issued May 29, after the pilots rejected a tentative deal with the airline.

In turn, WestJet issued an advanced lockout notice to ALPA on May 29. The parties had been in active labour negotiations for about nine months, dating back to September 2023.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that reflects the instrumental value and contributions of our Encore pilots,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and group chief operating officer.

“This agreement reflects our commitment to our Encore pilots and their contributions to the WestJet Group, as we continue to invest in our growth and Encore operations, which provide critical connectivity to regions across Western Canada.”

The new deal will expire Dec. 31, 2028, and received support of 79 percent of eligible pilots who voted on it, per ALPA.

“We are hopeful that this contract, which is industry-leading in many ways for a regional carrier, will make the WestJet Group a desired career choice once again for pilots,” added Kenny.

ALPA represents more than 78,000 pilots at 41 airlines based in Canada and the United States.

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