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WestJet pilot strike could impact economy, aviation expert says

Click to play video: 'The impact to travellers and the economy if WestJet pilots strike' The impact to travellers and the economy if WestJet pilots strike
WATCH: Aviation industry analyst Rick Erickson joins Global News Morning to talk about the implications for travellers and the Canadian economy in the event WestJet pilots decide to strike – May 12, 2018

If WestJet pilots end up going on strike this month, it could affect more than the company’s passengers, according to a Calgary-based aviation expert.

“What about cargo? If you’re a ‘just in time’ manufacturer, your product is ready at four o’clock every day for the seven o’clock flight that’s not going to be there,” Rick Erickson, an aviation consultant, said Saturday on Global News Morning.

“That’s going to be an issue.”

WestJet pilots voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action on Thursday, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, International. Union officials say a multitude of issues need to be addressed.

READ MORE: WestJet promises to refund cancelled flights impacted by possible strike

Erickson said the potential move could impact both the local and national economy.

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“You can bet the federal government is going to be very much involved in this on the negotiating side,” he added.

Officials say if a strike does happen, it won’t occur after the May long weekend. If you’re a passenger, Erickson suggests looking for alternative transport if you absolutely need to travel in late May.

“The sad reality is, as we’ve all found out, the closer to the date that you want to book, the higher the ticket cost,” Erickson said.

“All the lower seats are already all gone at the lower carriers.”

READ MORE: WestJet pilots vote in favour of strike action

Erickson also noted that WestJet carries 70,000 passengers on more than 700 flights daily, and no other company has the ability to take over that capacity. However, he believes that a deal will eventually be struck before any action is taken.

“I think WestJet management does not want this to happen,” Erickson said.

“There’s still some lingering corporate culture on the pilots’ side saying: this is a good guy business, we don’t want to see it impacting our customer base.”

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