Featured image: Casey Groulx/Airways

WestJet Cancels Flights Prior to Mechanics Strike

DALLAS — The WestJet Group cancels 40 flights in preparation for possible strike action from 670 of the airline's mechanics.

The strike action involves WS Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and other Tech Ops employees, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). These employees served the airline with a strike notice earlier this week and are set to walk off the job tomorrow Thursday night.

In the meantime, WS awaits intervention from the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) that would in theory halt any strike action, a move requested by the carrier and one that the AMFA rejects in the same way it did a tentative agreement with the airline last week.

It is now up to the CIRB to decide to take the dispute into arbitration, thus preventing further labor actions from the AMFA-WS members and the Canadian airline.

WestJet Boeing 787-9. Photo: Liam Funnell/Airways

Coments from WestJet, AMFA Union

Via a press release, WS states the flight cancelations enable "proactive communication with guests and crew to minimize the potential for being stranded and ensures the airline can avoid abandoning aircraft in remote locations.

Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer, said, “We are immensely disheartened that we are in a position where we must activate our contingency plan and begin parking aircraft, as a result of the strike notice served by AMFA. We deeply regret the disruption this will have on the travel plans of our guests, communities and businesses that rely on our critical air service."

On its part, the AMFA stated yesterday that the airline had conceded its aircraft maintenance operations was understaffed, but that it was still "fixed on increasing capacity through aggressive growth and fleet expansion, including its immediate intent to acquire portions of now-defunct Lynx Air’s grounded fleet."

According to AMFA, WS had canceled negotiations previously scheduled for today and tomorrow, asking the Canadian government "to impose on its AMEs a contract that they rejected by 97.5%."

The union added, "If WestJet were to realize its misguided goals, it would have very few AMEs left and the pressure to increase the volume of aircraft operating in revenue with inoperable equipment would be immense."

WestJet says about 6,500 travelers have been affected by its flight cancelations.

This is a developing story.

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