WestJet Encore pilots ratify five-year collective agreement

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WestJet Encore’s pilots officially have a new five-year contract, following the ratification of a collective agreement this week.

A news release on Friday from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) International, which represents the pilots, said the new agreement comes with pay increases and a more flexible schedule to allow for a better work-life balance.

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Of the 91 per cent of eligible WestJet Encore pilots who cast ballots, 79 per cent voted in favour of the agreement.

“The ratification of this contract is a step toward our company and our pilots working together to put the airline in a more competitive position,” said Capt. Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore ALPA master executive council.

“Since negotiations began, we were clear that to attract new pilots to the WestJet Group and retain the ones currently flying for our airline, we needed a contract that provides competitive compensation, improved scheduling flexibility and a level of career progression.”

WestJet Encore is WestJet’s regional branch, flying to and from small- to mid-sized markets across Canada, primarily with its fleet of smaller turboprop aircraft. WestJet Encore includes more than 350 pilots.

The news release did not outline conditions of the agreement, but ALPA previously stated the pilots were seeking wage increases of 15 to 30 per cent and better career progression toward WestJet’s main routes.

The ratified agreement lands a few months after WestJet Encore pilots picketed in front of Calgary International Airport on March 22. At the time, Kenny said the two parties remained far apart on several major issues, though on the same day, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech didn’t express concern about a potential strike.

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The contract goes into effect immediately, with retroactive pay to Jan. 1 of this year. The agreement will expire Dec. 31, 2028.

“We are hopeful that this contract, which is industry-leading in many ways for a regional carrier, will make the WestJet Group a desired career choice once again for pilots,” Kenny said.

In a separate news release, WestJet said it is pleased to have reached an agreement “that reflects the instrumental value and contributions of our Encore pilots.

“This agreement reflects our commitment to our Encore pilots and their contributions to the WestJet Group as we continue to invest in our growth and Encore operations, which provide critical connectivity to regions across Western Canada,” Diederik Pen, president and COO of WestJet Airlines, said in the release.

With files from Matt Scace

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