Labour relations difficulties appear to be at the root of the sudden departure of Gregg Saretsky as CEO of WestJet. Stock analysts appeared unanimous in their opinion that Saretsky’s replacement by Ed Sims was the result of his acrimonious relationship with the airline’s burgeoning unionized membership. The Airline Pilots Association, which is negotiating a first contract with WestJet, appeared to confirm the contentious atmosphere of those negotiations. “I think we’re just looking forward to working with the new CEO, Ed Sims,” ALPA’s Robert McFadyen told CBC.”As far as Gregg Saretsky, we’d like to wish him the best in his retirement.” The move caused jitters on the stock market and WestJet lost 4.5 percent of its value on news of Saretsky’s move.
WestJet was recently ordered to abandon plans to use WestJet pilots, on two-year leaves of absence, to fly for its new budget carrier Swoop under different working conditions than WestJet. ALPA had protested the move to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), saying all pilots working for the company should be under a single contract. WestJet says it’s still on track to launch Swoop in June.