WestJet Pilots Poised To File Strike Notice As of early May 15

As of early May 15, a strike is a distinct possibility.WestJet pilots can file for strike notice with the Canadian government at any time now, but as of early May 15, neither the pilot’s union nor management have given 72-hour notice for self-help either in the form of a pilot’s strike or management lockout. For now, both sides are negotiating directly and, as per below, in public.

As previously covered, 95% of WestJet Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) MEC voted to authorize a strike once legally able on April 18. WestJet pilots authorized the strike due to the laggard pace of negotiations plus demanding better on pilot retention, scope, and wages.

The pilots also conducted an informational picket on May 8. During the rally and subsequent picket, pilots lamented at the tone from management with statements like events are a “common practice.” The informational picket set Canadian records as per the below tweet:

A record number of pilots attended today’s all-base info picket. 750+ pilots made a statement to @WestJet mgt, do the right thing! Throughout negotiations mgt has not meaningfully addressed the pilots' concerns #WeAreReady #contract2023 #showUsAfuture #WestJetPilots #ALPAPilots pic.twitter.com/ixa6OwbVBr — WestJet ALPA Pilots (@WestJetALPA) May 8, 2023

Captain David Campbell of ALPA and one of the leaders of the 2022 efforts to land a game-changing pilot’s contract at Alaska Airlines made clear the pilots’ lament as you can listen below:

Captain David Campbell of ALPA and one of the leaders of the 2022 efforts to land a game-changing pilot’s contract at Alaska Airlines made clear the pilots’ lament as you can listen below:

Competitive wages are a concern

One of the largest items of concern for the WestJet pilots is that the pilots seek wages that are competitive with US airlines’ pilot wages. However, management has highlighted that WestJet’s home base is in Canada.

In an unsigned May 8 statement, WestJet management offered this pushback;

“There is no such thing as a standard contract that spans a continent in any industry; contracts need to reflect national labour laws, cost of living, economic environment and geography associated with the country a person is employed in. A WestJet contract equally needs to reflect the realities in which WestJet operates.”

WestJet Chief Executive Officer Alexis von Hoensbroech also offered some public-facing thoughts on May 12 where von Hoensbroech wrote;

“As we close in on the timing in which ALPA indicated willingness to issue a 72-hour notification, we are serious about getting a deal. Despite our ongoing recovery from the significant financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have brought forward a contract that is both reasonable and addresses the top asks of our valued pilots namely job security and scope, working conditions and meaningful wage improvements.”

WestJet Pilots’ response

The pilots have responded with the aforementioned rally and a May 13 podcast linked below. As per the podcast, Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the ALPA WestJet Master Executive Council, said:

“We’re working on a path forward for that for WestJet to once again grow as opposed to shrink as we lose pilots, due to the wages and working conditions.”

Negotiations have continued intensely. As per the podcast, Vice Chair Chris Toll offered these thoughts:

“I think by both parties, not saying hey, we’re going on strike, and we’re going on lockout, it shows the engagement level. … So I think there’s movement, I think there’s enough pace, and I believe that as we get closer to the deadline, Bernie, we’re gonna see a lot more movement from them a lot quicker.”

Plus, the pilots’ union is tweeting updates from @WestJetALPA on the progress of negotiations. This, alongside @WestJet for airline tweets, are best for updates on the developing situation.

To help illustrate why WestJet pilots are upset

Finally, the WestJet ALPA pilots put together some April Fool’s Day videos of their members attempting to instruct members of the general public how to fly a jetliner in a simulator. Here’s just one of them:

Without giving away the whole video, one can rest assured that flaps are important. If unsure, you can read a Simple Flying guide about flaps.



Journalist – When not reading and writing about aviation, Joe is photographing it. Joe Loves educating the public about aviation, and generating enthusiasm around flying while supporting all those who work in aviation. Based in Skagit County, United States