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WestJet and ALPA reach tentative agreement, averting pilot strike

By Skies Magazine | May 31, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 19 seconds.

WestJet Encore Dash 8-400. Eric Dumigan Photo

WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the union representing WestJet Encore pilots, have successfully negotiated a new tentative agreement, averting a potential strike that was set to begin on June 1. This announcement follows a lengthy period of negotiations, which saw the pilots reject a previous proposal and later issue a 72-hour strike notice — citing significant concerns over WestJet’s response to critical issues affecting the pilot group.

Capt Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore Master Executive Council, shared: “We are very pleased to announce we have reached a new tentative agreement with management which addresses those issues [that were previously disregarded]. Our goal has always been to reach an agreement that will help solve many of the airline’s pilot attraction and retention issues, provide industry-standard wages and working conditions, and provide a better work/life balance for our pilots.

“Over the coming days, our WestJet Encore membership will begin voting on the new tentative agreement,” Kenny added.

The negotiations, which resumed following WestJet’s May 29 lockout notice, were described as “challenging but meaningful,” and “a timely resolution was achieved” to avoid disruption of the airline’s operations, WestJet said.

Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and Group chief operating officer, commented on the importance of the new agreement, stating that it “provides an offer that is fair and sustainable, and better aligns with key priorities as identified by ALPA, while firmly adhering to the financial parameters that set a critical foundation in the original agreement.

“While we are pleased to have reached an agreement, we recognize the impact and the uncertainty a lockout notice has on our guests and our people,” Pen continued. “While our number one priority remains fulfilling our commitment to our guests . . . we cannot compromise on what is reasonable and protects the future employment for everyone across the WestJet Group.”

ALPA says the ratification vote by its WestJet Encore pilot members will be a critical step in finalizing the agreement.

The union, founded in 1931, is the largest airline pilot union in the world, representing more than 77,000 pilots at 41 U.S. and Canadian airlines.

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