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WestJet Issues Lockout Notice to Maintenance Workers

The second-largest airline in Canada sent a 72-hour lockout notification to the union representing its aircraft maintenance staff.

A WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

On Saturday, WestJet issued a 72-hour lockout notification to the union that represents the airline’s aircraft maintenance engineers. Unless the Aircraft Maintenance Fraternal Association (AMFA) can reach a deal and agreement with the carrier, a work stoppage could happen as early as Tuesday, May 7 at noon, according to the airline.

A lockout is an employer-initiated situation where the company prevents employees from entering the workplace and returning to work due to the failure to agree to a contract. This essentially is an attempt to force the union to relent. In this case, WestJet has decided to initiate this lockout as a final resolution and in response to the recent actions of the AMFA.

In a statement, Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airline and Group Chief Operating Officer, said, “The decision to issue a lockout notice was not one that was made lightly, and we sincerely regret and apologize for the uncertainty this causes for our guests and the communities and regions that rely on us. Despite our unwavering commitment to reach a collective agreement, AMFA continues to show up to the bargaining table with unreasonable demands and expectations.”

AMFA and the WestJet Group have been in labor negotiations for a contract since September 2023, and the initial contract package included a cumulative wage increase of 20 percent, stronger job security, and improved work-life balance, the carrier claims.

However, the aircraft maintenance workers’ union and the airline have not come to an agreement on a contract. Last week on April 30, AMFA issued a referendum email to its members to vote to authorize the union to call for a strike.

“With AMFA publicly issuing a strike vote alert last week and publicly directing guests to fly with other carriers, we can’t allow the unpredictable nature and lack of progress to continue. We are left with no alternative but to issue a lockout notice in an attempt to bring this to a final resolution,” Pen added.

The carrier will attempt to prevent any major operational disruption from occurring due to this recent notion with its maintenance workers and union.

Airline’s Pilot Lockout

WestJet’s recent 72-hour lockout notification for its aircraft maintenance personnel is not its first. In May 2023, the carrier issued a lockout notice to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union that represents the company’s over 1,800 pilots. In this instance, the lockout notice was in response to ALPA’s issuance of a 72-hour strike declaration, after voting for a strike in April.

Similar to the ongoing dispute, the airline and union remained at the bargaining table after failing to agree on negotiations a contract. Lockouts or threats to impose one are seen to be used as leverage, when an airline like WestJet intends to block the union from causing disruptions to business, during negotiation disputes.

As a result, the WestJet Group cancelled flights and parked a majority of its Boeing 737 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, as it anticipated the labor action from the pilots. However, ALPA and the airline reached an agreement on the second collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between both parties, preventing further operational disruptions.

Update May 6, 2024: The company and union reached a tentative agreement early Monday that halts any potential work stoppage. 

Benjamin Pham


  • Benjamin Pham

    Benjamin has had a love for aviation since a young age, growing up in Tampa with a strong interest in airplane models and playing with them. When he moved to the Washington, D.C. area, Benjamin took part in aviation photography for a couple of years at Gravelly Point and Dulles Airport, before dedicating planespotting to only when he traveled to the other airports. He is an avid, world traveler, having been able to reach 32 countries, yearning to explore and understand more cultures soon. Currently, Benjamin is an Air Transporation Management student at Arizona State University. He hopes to enter the airline industry to improve the passenger experience and loyalty programs while keeping up to how technology is being integrated into airports.

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