The strike by WestJet pilots hasn’t yet begun, but Air Canada has already made a direct announcement to any passengers who may be impacted by this industrial action. According to George Smith, a former Air Canada employee, WestJet “did the same to us when we were having labor problems.”
With industrial action all but imminent at WestJet, it seems that the tables have turned between the Calgary-based carrier and Air Canada, Yahoo Finance Canada reports. In a news release, the latter airline has offered assistance to WestJet passengers who may be impacted by strike action.
“In response to the strike vote mandate given by WestJet’s pilots, Air Canada today [Thursday, May 10] announced it has now added capacity on key transcontinental routes by up-gauging aircraft on certain flights from its primary global hub in Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, from Vancouver to Calgary, Edmonton, and from Calgary to Montreal,” said the company.
“Travelers who may be concerned about the uncertainty resulting from WestJet’s strike vote mandate can book Air Canada with confidence. With our flexible and diverse fleet, we will continue adjusting capacity where possible to limit disruptions for people traveling,” it added.
It seems that the airline’s offer has stirred memories and George Smith, who worked as a former senior manager at Air Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, offered his insight on the announcement.
“WestJet did the same to us when we were having labor problems. They ‘kindly’ offered to put more flights on the bread-and-butter routes like Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Calgary and Toronto-Vancouver; those are the routes that make a lot of money for the company with business travelers, and those are the routes they relish,” said Smith, who is now an expert in labor relations and a senior fellow at Ontario’s Queen’s University.
“WestJet lobbied the government very strongly to not intervene, to let the market do its thing, to ‘let us benefit if Air Canada can’t get its act together,’” Smith added. According to Smith, it is now Air Canada’s turn to say “’don’t intervene.’”
Smith also offered his comments on Air Canada’s next moves. “On those key routes where they want to attract those business travelers, they’ll upgrade capacity and divert planes from lower-paying routes to capitalize on WestJet’s problems.”
WestJet pilots, who voted in favor of strike action, could commence stoppage as early May 19.