Westjet saves 1000 pilot jobs following new agreement with union

The Westjet Group announced on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the Airline Pilot Association (ALPA), which would see the carrier saving 1000 pilot jobs from being layed off through the amendment of terms. The company, which has stated that there has been a 90% decline in air travel demand since the beginning of the pandemic, is being heavily impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Westjet B787-9 in Charleston. Photo by Devin Ruhotina | AeroNewsX

With this announcement, the airline group sees the number of affected pilots being reduced from 1700 to just 700, many of which had already received layoff notifications for the 1st of May or the 1st of June. According to the Calgary-based carrier, the saved jobs would not only come from Westjet itself, but also from the other two subsidiaries which the airline has: Westjet Encore and Swoop.

Jeff Martin, Westjet Executive Vice-President and COO, commented on the agreement saying: "I'm pleased that ALPA and WestJet, through robust negotiations and collaboration have come together to minimize the impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic on our pilot groups", adding: "We thank ALPA for the joint effort in working with us to assist our airline in remaining flexible and competitive. Our pilots will be a critical element of our recovery and retaining these important roles leaves us better positioned to recover strongly and return WestJet to a global airline."

An ALPA spokesperson also commented, saying that a lot of dedication from both the Westjet executives and pilots played a part in reaching this agreement. He added that he appreciated the time and effort put in it, during a period when “everyone is making sacrifices to protect our airline”.

The announcement includes Westjet, Westjet Encore and Swoop. Photo by Cole McAndrew | AeroNewsX

Westjet is currently using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), provided by the Government of Canada. This subsidy allows the airline to keep inactive employees on payroll while there is no work available for them due to the downturn in demand for air travel.

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