WestJet cancels flights ahead of possible work stoppage Friday

WestJet has cancelled 25 flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday as the airline prepares for the possibility of a strike by its mechanics.

The airline says the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) has issued a strike notice that could mean a work stoppage as early as 5:30 p.m. MT on Friday.

In a news release Wednesday night, WestJet says 3,300 passengers will be affected by the cancellations. The airline directs passengers to this website for updates on flight status.

This marks the second time in the past week the airline has cancelled flights because of a strike threat by the mechanics. Dozens of flights were cancelled last week before contract talks resumed.

“This action ensures the airline can safely park its aircraft in a controlled manner, while enabling proactive communication and preventing the stranding of WestJet’s guests and crew,” the release said.

Diederik Pen, WestJet’s president and chief operating officer, said the timing of the work stoppage — coming at the beginning of the Canada Day long weekend — is particularly difficult for passengers.

“As we are forced to make this painful decision, every one of us at WestJet feels the immense weight of the impact this will have on each of our guests and the communities we serve, counting on us to fulfil their travel plans this weekend,” said Pen.

In it’s most recent news release about the negotiations with the airline, AMFA said its 72-hour strike notice was submitted to prompt the airline to offer the mechanics a better deal. Instead, the union said, one hour later WestJet issued a 72-hour lockout notice in response.

“Strike or no strike, AMFA will always be available for negotiations. We have agreed to extend negotiations in Toronto through the end of this week and resume in Calgary next week if necessary,” the AMFA negotiating committee said.