The WestJet Group reached a tentative agreement with its about 1,800 pilots following negotiations after the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) issued a 72-hour strike notice.
But the 5 a.m. EST settlement did nothing to reverse the 107 cancelled flights across the country, according to flight tracking and data platform FlightAware. Flights statistics from Toronto Pearson Airport showed 32 departures and 32 arrivals were cancelled as of 2:05 p.m. on May 19, 2023.
WestJet Group Chief Executive Officer Alexis von Hoensbroech said WestJet was pleased to reach a deal with ALPA, the union representing pilots from WestJet and the other line, Swoop, after avoiding a strike.
They also “recognize the impact on our guests,” Hoensbroech said. They also “appreciate their patience during this time.”
The WestJet Group said in a written statement that they were ramping up their operations in the quickest manner, and they encourage guests “to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.”
Travellers from the United Kingdom John Jones and his wife Violet said their flight to Vancouver was cancelled.
They got an email about the cancellation the night before, John said. They had to add one stop to their direct flight, from Toronto to Winnipeg and then onto the west coast city.
“They offered us to fly tomorrow, but we have to get to Vancouver this evening,” Violet said. “We got to book our hotel when we get there for us to stay overnight, before we can fly home to the U.K.”
John said they planned to stay in Vancouver for four days, but the trip was now cut by a quarter.
Guests were also complaining about WestJet’s communications.
Traveller Karen Poole said she didn’t know her flight to St. John’s, N.L., got delayed until she got to the airport in person.
She didn’t receive any official emails or notifications from WestJet, Poole said.
“I tried to call WestJet online, but I kept disconnected online,” she said. “So, then I tried in phone, then I go through the menu, I tried all the different numbers on the menu.”
“I didn’t get to talk to anyone,” Poole said.
She originally booked this flight to look after her 80-year-old dad for a week as he wasn’t feeling well, she said.
Poole said she kept waking up over the night to check the status of flights and see if there was a resolution to the strike.
WestJet needed better communication, and more people available to handle enquiries and updates, Poole said.
“I have always trusted WestJet, always enjoyed flying with WestJet, they would have been my preference for airlines and flying,” she said. “I was really disappointed this time.”
WestJet Chief Executive Officer Hoensbroech said they were happy to arrive at a deal after two negotiations.
“We are pleased to now return our focus to providing friendly, reliable, and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come,” he said.