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WestJet 737 Max Calgary International Airport

WestJet cancels flights ahead of possible AME, tech ops strike 

By Skies Magazine | June 27, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 46 seconds.

WestJet said it has cancelled about 25 flights in reaction to the threat of a strike from the union representing its aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) and other technical operations staff. 

The flights were previously scheduled for June 27 and 28, ahead of the busy Canada Day weekend. About 3,300 guests are impacted by the cancellations, WestJet said.  

“As we quickly approach the July long weekend, it is especially devastating that the strike notice we have received …  forces us to begin cancelling flights and parking aircraft, for the second time in just over a week,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and group chief operating officer. 

WestJet AMEs and other tech ops staff are represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). The union issued a strike notice “just hours into day one” of an agreed-upon four-day bargaining period, WestJet said.  

A strike could begin as early as 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, ahead of what the airline said is its busiest travel weekend of the summer

The airline said it has presented AMFA with a “Canadian industry-leading agreement that is better suited than the previously rejected tentative agreement,” and said a strike could disrupt the travel plans of more than 250,000 guests over Canada Day weekend.  

The union struck back in two public statements, saying it submitted a proposal on the morning of June 25 with terms that, “according to membership surveys, would achieve contract ratification and labour peace.”  

AMFA claims WestJet counter-proposed an “economic enhancement of less than one percent at the cost of an extended contract term.”  

WestJet has previously said it presented an offer with a 22 percent wage increase over four years. Both parties acknowledge the union issued a 72-hour strike notice, followed by a lockout notice from WestJet.  

“Strike or no strike, AMFA will always be available for negotiations,” the union said in a statement. “We have agreed to extend negotiations in Toronto through the end of this week and resume in Calgary next week if necessary.”  

WestJet accuses the union of trying to force an “unreasonable contract.”  

“We remain at the bargaining table, committed to reaching an agreement; however, we have no choice but to hold strong on a reasonable outcome that protects our future and ability to provide Canadians with critical and affordable air travel,” said Pen.  

“As we initiate flight cancellations across our network, we will continue to manage our operations to the highest degree of safety.” 

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