WestJet mechanics strike cancels flights at Winnipeg airport during long weekend

The WestJet mechanics’ strike is affecting Winnipeg with flight cancellations during the Canada Day long weekend.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association says its members walked off the job on Friday despite the federal government issuing a ministerial order for binding arbitration.

The 680 mechanics walking off in a surprise strike makes for an unprecedented and difficult situation for WestJet, according to former Air Canada exec Duncan Dee.

Click to play video: 'Why one Winnipeg family may swear off flying with WestJet'

Why one Winnipeg family may swear off flying with WestJet

“We have never really had a situation where an entire work group has gone out on strike after it had been ordered into binding arbitration,” he said.

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“The airline doesn’t have the time or any plans to be able to accommodate this kind of a scenario,” he added.

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The strike resulted in the cancellation of over 150 flights and more cancellations could be on the horizon if a deal is not reached soon.

In Winnipeg, Richardson International Airport has reported eight flights that have been cancelled as a result of the job action.

Click to play video: 'Travellers react as WestJet strike looms'

Travellers react as WestJet strike looms

The airline said there are a few options available for rebooking should a guest find their flight cancelled.

Dee says he is concerned about the long-term impact should the strike not be handled quickly by the CIRB or the federal government.

“You’ll have a chaotic winddown which would result in aircraft being stuck in places that they were never anticipated to be stuck in, crews stuck in places, travellers stuck in places,” he said.

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He said it could end up in a situation that would take several weeks to get the network back together.

Meanwhile, WestJet says it is outraged at these actions and will hold the union 100 per cent accountable for the “stress and costs” incurred as a result.

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