WestJet announced Thursday it has reached an agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) to save more than 1,000 pilot jobs.
On April 15, the airline had said that 1,700 pilots across WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop would be laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Those pilots were set to lose their jobs on either May 1 or June 1, 2020, but Thursday’s announcement means the majority of pilots will remain employed.
Jeff Martin, WestJet’s chief operating officer, said keeping more pilots flying will help the airline return to service after the pandemic.
“We thank ALPA for the joint effort in working with us to assist our airline in remaining flexible and competitive,” said Martin.
“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.”
Dave Colquhoun, ALPA’s master executive council chair, said the deal will minimize the impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic on pilots.
“The agreement we have reached is due to the dedication of the WestJet executive and the WestJet pilots, in a time where everyone is making sacrifices,” said Colquhoun.
“We look forward to the time when all of our pilots, and many of the other WestJetters who are casualties of this crisis, are back to work at WestJet.”
WestJet said it is using the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to help navigate the pandemic due to the downturn in demand for air travel.
WestJet said it will use CEWS to keep inactive employees on the payroll.
The airline said the union will be tasked with letting pilots know if their layoff status has changed.
Watch below: Some recent videos about WestJet.