WestJet and the Airline Pilots Association’s Canadian chapter have reached a deal to keep most pilots on the payroll for the immediate future. About 1,700 pilots were set to be laid off on May 1 and June 1 but the Thursday deal allows at least 1,000 of them to keep their jobs. “Our pilots will be a critical element of our recovery and retaining these important roles leaves us better positioned to recover strongly and return WestJet to a global airline,” said Jeff Martin, the airline’s chief operating officer.
Fundamental to the deal is the airline’s participation in the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program which will cover 75 percent of employee wages to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Inactive employees will be kept on the payroll through the program and the union and company agreed to terms to implement the program. “The agreement we have reached is due to the dedication of the WestJet executives and the WestJet pilots, in a time where everyone is making sacrifices,” said ALPA Chair Dave Colquhoun.