WestJet Group Cancels Flights Amid Pilot Strike
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WestJet Group Cancels Flights Amid Pilot Strike

WestJet C-GYRS Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

DALLAS – The WestJet Group, the entity made up today by WestJet (WS) and subsidiaries, Swoop (WO) and most recently also Sunwing Airlines (WG), has begun to adjust its flight schedule by canceling flights across the country in preparation for the imminent pilot strike

As of today, the labor action is supported by the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) and more than 69,000 pilots of the union. The pilot community of the Canadian airline group has issued a legal notice warning the event, which is expected to start on May 19, 2023, and could include grounding all aircraft and effectively shutting down operations, as stated by the ALPA.

Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO at the WestJet Group, stated, “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 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.” 

According to worldwide flight tracker FlightRadar24, WestJet has already canceled 32 regularly scheduled flights for today, May 18, out of its main hub at Calgary International Airport (YYC). The first cancellation happened as soon as 00:20 local time, with flight WS652 not being able to depart from Toronto-Pearson Airport (YYZ).

Its second base at Pearson has also seen already 19 flight cancellations. However, at the moment of writing, only airline WS from the group has been affected by the strike. Neither Swoop nor Sunwing is experiencing any flight disruptions at their main airports.

WestJet Encore Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
Passengers flying on routes operated by regional aircraft will not be initially affected by the strike. Photo: Liam Funnell/Airways.

WestJet is Also Parking its Aircraft

Given the challenging and uncertain situation at the airline, where negotiations do not end up in an agreement between the WestJet Group and the ALPA, the carrier has decided to ground a large part of its fleet even before the official start of the pilot strike, expected for 19 May 2023.

WS announced it would park most of its Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner fleet in a measured, phased, and safe approach. This announcement does not affect WS’s subsidiaries, WestJet Encore (WR) and WestJet Link, which will continue operating as usual, along with separate and limited flights of the parent company.

At the moment of writing, the WestJet Group owns, across all its member brands, a total of 144 Boeing 737 family jets, 7 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, and a smaller fleet of 47 Bombardier Dash 8 and 5 Saab 340 aircraft for its regional route network.

Featured image: WestJet (C-GYRS) Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Liam Funnell/Airways.

Deputy Reporter - Europe & Middle East
Commercial aviation enthusiast from Madrid, Spain. Studying for a degree in Air Traffic Management and Operations at the Technical University of Madrid. Aviation photographer since 2018.

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