‘The number is evolving’: Over 10 WestJet flights cancelled at Winnipeg airport due to strike

More and more WestJet flights are getting cancelled due to an ongoing labour dispute between the airline and its mechanics.

As of Saturday morning, more than 10 WestJet flights travelling into and out of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport were called off.

“The number is evolving,” said Tyler MacAfee, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA).

The WAA said it won’t be commenting on the issue itself, but encourages those travelling with WestJet to check with the airline for the latest information.

According to WestJet, 235 flights have been cancelled since the Aircraft Mechanic Fraternal Association (AMFA) went on strike Friday.

The strike came as a surprise after the federal labour minister Seamus O’Regan ordered both parties to submit to binding arbitration on Thursday, in an effort to find a settlement and avoid travel chaos during the Canada Day long weekend.

In an update Saturday morning, CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech and president Diederik Pen expressed their frustration with the situation.

“The (labour) minister has called CIRB (Canadian Industrial Relations Board) to mandate binding arbitration,” said von Hoensbroech. “That means negotiations have ended.

“There is no bargaining table (at the moment),” he said. “This makes a strike totally absurd.”

On Friday, AMFA announced the strike is due to the airline’s “unwillingness to negotiate with the union.”

Von Hoensbroech said the airline is waiting to hear from the labour minister on next steps. Meantime, those whose travel plans were disrupted by the strike are being compensated with an overnight hotel stay.

It’s not the first time a labour dispute has thrown a wrench into WestJet holiday travel plans. In 2023, the airline narrowly averted a strike in the early hours of the May long weekend, but still cancelled more than 200 flights in the process.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Stephen Hunt

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