WestJet, pilot’s union agree to settlement process with mediator

CALGARY — The threat of a strike by WestJet pilots appears to be over.

The Calgary-based airline and the union that represents the pilots said Friday they have agreed to a settlement process that will involve a federal mediator.

WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) say if necessary they have agreed to use final and binding arbitration.

In a joint release the airline and union said “WestJet guests can now book and travel with confidence.”

The two sides had resumed contract talks on Tuesday.

The pilots were legally able to launch a strike last Saturday, but committed not to disrupt passenger travel plans over the Victoria Day long weekend as a goodwill gesture.

The ALPA represents about 1,500 pilots at WestJet’s main service.

WestJet has said its bargaining team was focused on getting a sustainable agreement that benefits pilots, WestJet customers and the company as a whole.

The airline had promised to refund tickets if flights were cancelled in the event of a strike.

WestJet has said that its bookings have slowed since the union said it would seek a strike mandate, which was supported by 91 per cent of its members.

WestJet’s planned launch of its Swoop ultra-low cost carrier has been a source of contention between pilots and the company.

Earlier this year, the union won a Canada Industrial Relations Board challenge to the company’s proposed policy to offer pilots a two-year leave of absence if they go to fly for Swoop.

The ALPA complained that the policy was a significant change in the company’s terms of employment and an interference with the union’s right to represent the pilots.

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