Mechanics Strike Threat at WestJet is Over, for Now

The threat of a strike caused the airline to cancel about 50 flights this week.

A WestJet airplane takes off in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 21, 202.
A WestJet airplane takes off in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 21, 202.
Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File

The union representing mechanics at Canadian airline WestJet said it withdrew a notice to begin a strike Thursday night after the airline agreed to return to the bargaining table.

The strike threat had prompted WestJet, Canada's second-biggest airline, to cancel about 50 flights this week to avoid travelers and planes being stranded.

"We hope that WestJet's agreement to return to the table means we can get the contract our members want," Bret Oestreich, national president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, said Thursday. He said the union's strike-authorization vote remains in effect until July 9.

The union represents about 680 WestJet mechanics, who voted overwhelmingly to reject the company's last contract offer.

AMFA gave WestJet 72 hours' notice on Monday night that it would strike after the airline asked the Canadian government to intervene and order both sides into binding arbitration.

Canada's industrial relations board met for several hours Wednesday and declined to stop the union from striking, leading WestJet to say it would return to the bargaining table.

"In returning to the bargaining table, we are committed to finding a resolution to avoid further disruption to our operations," said Diederik Pen, the airline's president.

However, that was after WestJet had begun canceling flights, affecting about 6,500 passengers. The airline canceled five flights Tuesday, 24 Wednesday and more than 20 additional flights by Thursday afternoon, according to tracking service FlightAware.

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