Following confirmation that the federal government would permit WestJet's proposed acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations to proceed, the airline - as well as two of its worker unions - responded.
WESTJET: "Important Milestone"
"The issuance of the order is an important milestone in the process toward closing the transaction," WestJet said in a neutral statement that did not indicate the airline's response to what Ottawa calls "strict" and "enforceable" terms that protect competition, connectivity and jobs.
"We are pleased that the regulatory review of the transaction is now complete," said Angela Avery, WestJet Group Executive Vice-President and Chief People, Corporate & Sustainability Officer in a media release, acknowledging that Ottawa, in its review, found "that the proposed acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines is in the public interest, taking into account certain measures."
WESTJET PILOTS' UNION: "Professional Pilots Need to be on Board"
The Air Line Pilots' Association, International, which represents nearly 70,000 pilots at 39 U.S. and Canadian airlines, also issued a statement following Ottawa's announcement, calling for improved job security, working conditions, and "industry standard wages" for "all" WestJet group pilots.
“We have been anticipating this announcement for some time, but unfortunately it came without any consultation with WestJet management,” said Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the WestJet Master Executive Council. “We currently have meetings scheduled with the company (this) week where we will seek additional information and clarification regarding any potential future merger of operations, its impact on our current contract negotiations, and the pilot group as a whole.”
The union statement adds that "executives at both airlines previously stated that there will be no job losses in the planned takeover. ALPA, however, will continue looking forward to ensuring the pilots’ priorities are linked to the airline’s future success."
“While this acquisition may make business sense for the WestJet group of companies, from ALPA’s perspective, to achieve a successful outcome, this transaction with Sunwing must translate into opportunity for all pilots," said Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada President. “Our members know that for acquisitions or mergers to be successful, the professional pilots need to be on board.”
WESTJET CABIN CREW UNION: "Unanswered Questions"
And WestJet's cabin crew have weighed in on the acquisition, too.
Alia Hussain, President of CUPE Local 4070 (WestJet Cabin Crew) issued the following statement about the approval of the Sunwing acquisition by WestJet.
"On behalf of the 4,000 Flight Attendants and Cabin Crew Members working for the WestJet group of companies, we are pleased that there is now certainty about the purchase of Sunwing by WestJet," it reads, adding the union is "cautiously optimistic about the growth of WestJet.
However, it added, "there remains a number of important unanswered questions. We need to know more about WestJet’s ability to finance this project, and we want to better understand how this will impact the working lives of our members. We will continue to push WestJet for answers on these questions.
"Our members work for, and even celebrate, the successes of the company. But employees need more information to fully understand what the impacts will be."