New agreement with WestJet pilots could mean the end of Swoop: sources

Sources say one of the terms of the agreement between WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association could mean the end of Swoop. CityNews reporter Leah Johansen spoke to experts about what this might mean for travellers, and Canadian low-cost options.

By Richard Southern

An agreement between WestJet and the union representing its pilots could mean the end of the budget airline Swoop.

Multiple sources tell CityNews one of the terms of the agreement between the airline and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is that Swoop must be fully integrated into WestJet by October 2024.

In a statement to CityNews, WestJet said because the agreement is not ratified, the finals terms can’t be discussed.

“As the tentative agreement between the WestJet Group and ALPA, the union representing WestJet and Swoop, has not yet been ratified by its membership, we are unable to disclose the terms of the agreement,” read the statement in full.

WestJet avoided a potential shutdown over the weekend after they announced a tentative deal to avoid the job action had been reached early Friday morning after eight months of negotiations.

Bernard Lewall, who heads the ALPA’s WestJet contingent, had said the workers’ issues revolved around pay, job security and scheduling.

The Calgary-based airline, which is a subsidiary of WestJet, has operated in Canada since 2018 and flies to 32 destinations. Currently, pilots who fly under the Swoop banner are paid less than those who fly for WestJet.

With the company’s takeover of leisure carrier Sunwing approved by the federal government on March 10, the union had been worried it could lead to the creation of yet another class of pilots with a different pay scale.

WestJet pilots first unionized in May 2017, signaling a major shift in culture at the famously non-union airline.

With files from The Canadian Press

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