File photo.

Comox Valley businesses await word on potential WestJet pilot strike

With the news Thursday that WestJet pilots could be striking in less than two weeks, the Comox Valley Record reached out to a few local businesses that would be impacted by a potential pilot strike by the Calgary-based airline.

WestJet’s pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). On Thursday, union members voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action if a contract agreement with WestJet’s management cannot be reached by May 19.

Read More: WestJet flights could be interrupted as pilots vote in favour of strike action

Comox Valley Airport CEO Fred Bigelow said he is hopeful the two sides can reach an agreement before any impact on YQQ passengers. WestJet is one of the Comox Valley Airport’s main airlines, with multiple daily flights to and from Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary.

“We just remain hopeful they can achieve some kind of an agreement that both sides are happy with and keeps everyone — including our travelling public — going where they want to go,” said Bigelow.

“This is a matter between WestJet and its staff and we do wish them well. For our passengers, for the air crew involved, for all the WestJet staff.”

Susan Davies, the manager of Square 1 Travel Service in downtown Courtenay, echoed similar sentiments as Bigelow. She said the agency hopes there isn’t going to be a strike.

“Really, our hands are tied until the airline gives us the go-ahead or authorization to make changes as necessary,” she said.

“Usually, it’s on a day-to-day basis. We can’t be looking after someone a week down the road because a strike could be settled at that time.”

Davies said she remembers when Air Canada pilots went on strike about a decade ago and said it led to busier workloads for a short time, as travel agents scrambled to assist passengers looking to re-book or rearrange travel plans.

“It had to have been 10 years ago,” she said of the Air Canada strike. “It didn’t last a long time but it did impact a few passengers at the time.

“We would end up being very busy trying to make alternative arrangements for them, changing their plans or cancelling things if they need to be cancelled.

Next steps

Negotiations between ALPA and WestJet management will continue next week in Halifax. However, Thursday’s vote allows WestJet’s pilots to walk off the job before the end of the month. The union has said it would not go on strike before the busy Victoria Day long weekend.

“The goal is — and always has been — to secure a fair collective agreement that brings stability to the airline, and not to strike,” said Capt. Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council.

McFadyen said the strong results of the strike vote and a high turnout at ALPA’s informational picketing event earlier this week “should provide management the added incentive it needs to bring serious proposals to the bargaining table that address our concerns.”

—With files from Katya Slepian/Black Press

Just Posted

Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue kept busy across the province

CVGSAR had a busy week, sending rescuers as far away as Invermere

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Glacier View residents take a ride on the river

Ground Search and Rescue guides floaters on Puntledge

Brewing up some community engagement

Insp. Tim Walton says goodbye to the Comox Valley

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read