More than 100,000 WestJet customers impacted by strike, over 1,000 flights cancelled

WestJet travellers are still struggling to find alternative ways to their destinations as more flight cancellations and delays are expected. Silvia Naranjo reports.

By Michael Talbot

In an update Tuesday WestJet said it was still working to restore full operations after its mechanics went on strike right before the start of the Canada Day long weekend, throwing thousands of travel plans into disarray.

As of Thursday, WestJet said a total of 1137 flights have been cancelled, with more cancellations required “over the coming days” as the airline works to resume normal operations.

In its latest update, the airline said it is “building momentum towards full recovery.”

“WestJet has taken significant strides to resume normal operations,” it posted on its website. “As of today, 125 of WestJet’s 180 fleet are now active across the airline’s network.”

The airline said more than 100,000 guests have been impacted by the labour disruption.

Courtesy: WestJet

“Due to the labour strike and related mass disruption to WestJet’s operation beginning Friday, June 28, teams across WestJet are working diligently to support all impacted guests as we rebuild to normal operations,” WestJet said. “Unfortunately, as July long weekend is a peak travel period across Canada, limited availability exists both within our network and through alternative carriers, making options for reaccommodation extremely challenging.

“In compliance with the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), in the event reaccommodation with WestJet or an alternative airline isn’t available within 48 hours of a guest’s scheduled departure, guests are entitled to request a refund to their original form of payment.”

Approximately 680 workers, whose daily inspections and repairs are essential to airline operations, walked off the job Friday evening despite a directive for binding arbitration from Canada’s federal labour minister.

WestJet executives and the union representing the striking mechanics announced on Monday that they reached a second tentative agreement, ending the devastating strike.

“The damage to Canadians and our airline is massive, a swift resolution was necessary. We take no victory laps on this outcome but will sleep better tonight knowing further harm has been prevented,” said WestJet president Diederik Pen.

With files from Nick Westoll

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