Details of WestJet Pilots' New Deal: 24% Raise, Swoop Integration - and Likely Impact on the Industry

A 24 per cent hourly raise over 4 years. That's how much compensation increase WestJet pilots secured in their new deal with the airline just before the MAY long weekend, reports Reuters. The publication reportedly saw a copy of the deal on Friday, 26MAY, a week after the two sides agreed to a tentative deal, staving off a strike or lockout.

The agreement is pending approval by a WestJet pilot vote, although no ratification vote date has been reported.

Further, the deal provides, "additional benefits and restructuring of retirement funds, according to an executive summary," and, according to GlobalNews, upon ratification, WS pilots will also receive an hourly pay raise this year of 15.5 per cent retroactive to 01JAN.

Snowball Effect?

As the article notes and as Open Jaw has reported, WestJet pilots had been demanding via their union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), an 'industry' or 'North American-standard' contract that would bring its members into line with recent rich gains made by pilots negotiating new contracts with U.S. airlines.

Earlier this year, Delta's pilots secured a 34 per cent pay increase over a four-year period.

While not as stratospheric a boost as Delta's pilots negotiated, the tentative WestJet deal is expected to have a profound impact on Canada's air travel landscape.

As Open Jaw reported, WestJet's pilots' negotiations have set the scene for future bargaining at Air Canada. Around 4,500 Air Canada pilots officially joined ALPA - the same union that represents WestJet pilots - the same week that ALPA secured its double-digit deal for WestJet pilots.

While Air Canada’s pilots are currently not in negotiations, they could begin bargaining with the airline this summer before the end of a decade-long agreement reached in 2014. The same demands by WestJet pilots in negotiations could be “on [Air Canada’s] desk real soon,” said one aviation industry expert.

According to Reuters, Air Canada pilots must decide by Monday, 29MAY whether to stay within the framework of their 2014 10-year agreement, or use a type of escape clause to force the airline into full negotiations this year.

Here's the math to show what's at stake for AC's pilots - and the industry.

According to an "internal table" seen by Reuters, a "top-paid" AC B787 pilot makes CAD $313.81/hour after 11 years. Under WestJet's new deal, the same pilot at that airline would - by 2026 - earn over $30/hour more: $347.16.

Something's Gotta Give

GlobalNews' reporting cites "travel expert" Omar Kaywan predicting that what's good news for Canadian pilots may be bad news for Canadian travellers.

“At the end of the day, somebody has to pay for it and it’s going to be the passengers," he said, echoing concerns throughout the industry.

He also pointed out that airfares are already 15-20 per cent higher than a year ago - and would likely continue to rise if airlines' labour costs keep rising.

Swoop Integration Confirmed - The End of The Low-Cost Flights?

Reuters also confirmed that the proposed new deal would - by OCT, 2024 - integrate budget carrier Swoop into WestJet's mainline.

Observers say that could mark the end of WestJet Group's low-cost flight offering.

“Will it continue to compete in the low-cost carrier category or will it just completely kind of merge into WestJet?” asked Kaywan.

Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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