WestJet Faces Major Disruptions Amid Mechanics’ Strike

WestJet Airlines has been forced to cancel over 800 flights due to an ongoing strike by its mechanics, significantly affecting travel plans for approximately 110,000 passengers during the Canada Day long weekend. The strike, which began on Friday evening, has led to widespread chaos and frustration among travelers.

The mechanics, responsible for essential daily inspections and repairs, walked off the job despite a directive for binding arbitration from the federal labor minister. This action has left the airline operating with a drastically reduced fleet, with only 32 out of its 180 planes in service. As a result, WestJet topped the global list for flight cancellations among major airlines over the weekend.

Travelers have been left scrambling to rebook flights, with many facing long waits and uncertainty. One passenger, Trevor Temple-Murray, found himself waiting in a car with his family at Victoria Airport, unsure if their rescheduled flight to Calgary would proceed. Similarly, Marina Cebrian, an exchange student from Spain, faced multiple cancellations, delaying her return home by several days.

Both WestJet and the Airplane Mechanics Fraternal Association have accused each other of bad faith negotiations. The union has emphasized its preference for a negotiated agreement over arbitration, while WestJet has criticized the strike as an unnecessary disruption. The union’s demands include wage increases that would align with U.S. industry standards, surpassing current Canadian compensation levels.

The federal government has intervened, mandating binding arbitration, but the mechanics have continued their strike, citing their legal right to do so. This has led to a complex legal and operational standoff, with the airline seeking urgent clarification from the government on the coexistence of strike actions and arbitration.

As the strike continues, WestJet has apologized to affected passengers and is working to manage the reduced operations. The situation remains fluid, with travelers advised to check flight statuses regularly and prepare for potential further disruptions.