WestJet Starts Canceling Flights as It Prepares for Strike by Aircraft Maintenance Engineers

By Trisha Andrada

Jun 20, 2024 01:24 AM EDT

WestJet has started canceling and consolidating flights in preparation for a potential strike by aircraft maintenance engineers and other tech operations employees. The Canadian airline claimed it wanted to keep passengers and planes safe during a walkout. 

A Westjet Boeing 737-800 taxies at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Ontario, on May 16, 2022. (Photo : GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

Flight Cancellations of WestJet

According to a press release, WestJet will cancel about 40 flights from June 18 to 19, affecting 6,500 passengers.

The airline had already canceled five flights on Tuesday, June 18, and 20 flights by Wednesday afternoon Eastern time, June 19, making up 4% of the company's schedule, according to the monitoring website FlightAware.

The budget carrier said it was attempting to source alternative arrangements for clients whose flights were canceled.

Read More: WestJet Mechanics Overwhelmingly Reject Tentative Agreement, Union Reports

WestJet vs. AMFA

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and WestJet are currently engaged in discussions to reach a first collective bargaining agreement that will affect around 680 mechanics. 

The Associated Press reported that WestJet urged the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) earlier this week to compel the parties to binding arbitration. If the airline does not return to the negotiation table this week in Calgary, the union has threatened to go on strike as early as Thursday night, June 20.

According to WestJet President Diederik Pen, the most recent contract offer would have increased maintenance engineers' take-home compensation by 30% to 40% in a year, making them among the highest-paid in Canada.

The union claimed that WestJet was attempting to enforce a contract that was rejected by 97.5% of its members and that the low wages made it difficult for the airline to fill available positions.

Read More: Boeing CEO Defends Safety Standards and Apologizes to Families of 737 Max Crash Victims During Senate Hearing

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