28 May, 2018

Swoop to be covered by union....no strike for WestJet pilots

It was announced late last week that pilots who fly for Swoop, the new budget airline from WestJet will now benefit from the same level of union coverage as those flying for the mainline WestJet brand.

It was only on Friday night that WestJet management and its pilots averted possible strike action by flight crew by approving a settlement process to reach a first contract, with any disputed issues to be resolved through binding arbitration with Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). 

The group's pilots who fly for Swoop will now be covered under the same contract as their WestJet mainline counterparts, which was a demand by the union, who also accused WestJet of outsourcing jobs to break the action.

The standardisation could also lead to salary equalisation for both carriers, which would add to staffing costs at a time when WestJet is expanding, not only starting Swoop but also introducing a business class product, going long-haul as well as seeing an increasingly aggressive advertising campaign targeting WestJet passengers from rival Air Canada.

Canadian aviation analysts have told us that WestJet has seen a significant drop in bookings over recent weeks due to Air Canada's campaign and the uncertainty over the possible strike action from WestJet pilots. The decline in future bookings is likely to be represented by a fall in overall revenues to be reported in 2018's second quarter.

“WestJet guests can now book and travel with confidence,” was the statement from WestJet on Friday evening, however, there could be some more clouds on the horizon as the ALPA is known to want to greater parity between the pay of pilots working for Air Canada and those of WestJet.