Pilots with WestJet have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if a new collective agreement can not be reached before the end of the Victoria Day long weekend.
He added that it's time for the efforts of pilots to be properly recognized in terms of industry-standard compensation and working conditions, and job security that prevents management from outsourcing jobs.
"There has to be an agreement between us and the [WestJet] executive about who is going to be flying those airplanes", said David Colquhoun, a member of the union's negotiating team, during an interview "Right now there is nothing written down that says it is going to be WestJet pilots, but our pilots have overwhelmingly told us they expect to be flying those airplanes". Talks are scheduled to take place in Halifax through next week.
Pilots will be in a position to strike on May 19 but have agreed to wait until the Victoria Day long weekend has passed.
Calgary-based WestJet says it respects the outcome of the vote and hopes to reach a deal with the union.
Out of approximately 2000 WestJet and WestJet Encore pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), 95 percent cast a ballot in their vote to strike.
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WestJet and the union are nearing the end of a 21-day cooling off period, with pilots able to start any job action from May 19.
"We remain at the negotiation table to drive a sustainable agreement, in the best interest of our pilots, 13,000 WestJetters and the 70,000 guests who fly with us daily", said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.
WestJet has said its bookings have slowed as passengers respond to the threat of a potential labour disruption. "The travelling public can book Air Canada with confidence", it said in a news release earlier this week.
In response, rival airline Air Canada says it has 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.
Still, a strike at Canada's second-largest airline would be a huge blow to consumers and a giant pain for WestJet.