In response to a strike notification by its pilots' union late Monday, 15MAY, WestJet issued its own lockout notice.
With the mutual 72-hour notice, a work stoppage could occur as early as the first day of the upcoming long weekend: Friday, 19MAY.
WestJet said in a statement 15MAY that negotiations continue with both parties remaining at the bargaining table, and that issuing notices does not necessarily mean a work stoppage will occur.
As Open Jaw has reported, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) represents 1,850 WestJet and Swoop pilots, who have been in contract talks with the WestJet Group since last fall.
"The decision to issue a lockout notice, in response to the actions taken by the union today, was not one that was made lightly, and we sincerely regret the inconvenience and uncertainty this continues to cause for our guests," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of WestJet Group.
"It is our responsibility to ensure the safety and complete control of our network at all times, to minimize the risk of stranding our guests, our crews and our aircraft. Our commitment and priority remains at the bargaining table, where we will continue to work around the clock to come to a reasonable agreement as soon as possible, in an effort to prevent labour action."
The company maintains it's offering its pilots a reasonable deal.
"Throughout negotiations, the WestJet Group has brought forward a generous contract that if agreed to will make its first officers and captains the highest paid narrow-body pilots in Canada, with a significant advantage over the next best paying Canadian airline," the WestJet Group statement reads.
"Furthermore, the proposed contract makes generous advancements to address the concerns of WestJet and Swoop pilots surrounding job security and scope. Despite efforts to be reasonable and provide significant improvements to the current contract, the union maintains its expectation of closing in towards U.S.–like wages, despite living and working in Canada. This expectation is not reasonable and is impeding the WestJet Group's ability to reach an agreement in advance of the upcoming long weekend."
"We truly value the work and contributions of our pilots. We believe with a commitment from both parties, an agreement is achievable and are committed to offering pilots a competitive collective agreement with meaningful improvements for the Canadian market, whilst remaining competitive at the same time," concluded von Hoensbroech.