In an effort to help travellers impacted by the possible WestJet pilots' strike this Friday (May 19), Flair Airlines confirmed Tuesday (May 16) that it has added extra flights between Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton beginning this holiday long weekend
The first of the additional flights depart May 19, 2023, according to a press release. The low-cost airline says it is creating contingency plans to serve more destinations with flight frequencies should the WestJet pilots’ strike continue for an extended period.
“Flair Airlines stands ready, willing, and able to add additional flights. We hope this measure will help WestJet passengers who otherwise could not travel due to the pilots’ strike,” said Stephen Jones, CEO of Flair Airlines. “Our teams are eager to help and the first of the extra flights went out for sale last night with a starting fare of $99.”
Flair says it saw an increase in flight bookings since news of the WestJet pilots’ strike was first reported in the media and began preparing contingency plans before the strike announcement.
The airlines says its flights are "increasingly full," with load factors in April 2023 reaching 90.3 per cent. In addition, the airline recently reported on-time performance of 74.1 per cent.
“We don’t want to go on strike"
WestJet’s pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), announced late Monday (May 15) that 1,850 pilots could walk off the job early Friday morning (May 19) as negotiators continue to push for a new agreement.
The airline responded Monday night with a notice that it plans to lock out employees on the same day.
As of 3:00 a.m. MT this Friday, WestJet could begin lawful job action, which could lead to the grounding of all aircraft and shut down operations, the ALPA said.
Appearing on Breakfast Television Tuesday morning (May 16), Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the WestJet ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC), said the plan is to hunker down in Toronto for the next three days and try to reach a “fair deal.”
“We don’t want to go on strike,” Capt. Lewall told BT’s Tammie Sutherland, appearing via video link. “We want to serve our passengers.”
In preparation for a potential disruption, WestJet, which has about 31 per cent of the domestic market, says it will operate a reduced schedule and provide “flexible” change and cancellation arrangements.
According to Cirium data, WestJet has 540 flights scheduled for Friday, and 457 for Saturday.