With a strike deadline looming, the Winnipeg airport is encouraging travellers on WestJet or Swoop airlines to check the status of their flights ahead of time.
The deadline for WestJet’s anticipated work stoppage is 2 a.m. Friday, and Michel Rosset of the Winnipeg Airports Authority says travellers should keep a close eye on things and be prepared to make alternate arrangements.
“They’ve indicated to us late last night that they’re going to begin cancelling some of their scheduled departures,” Rosset told 680 CJOB’s The Start, “as they slowly bring down their network in anticipation of a potential labour disruption.
“It’s not known how many departures yet will be impacted here at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.”
As of Thursday morning, six WestJet and Swoop flights — of 26 total — from Winnipeg had been cancelled so far, with the potential for more.
The labour dispute is over a number of issues — one being pilot pay, with the union saying pilots in Canada are paid roughly half of what their American counterparts make.
The federal labour minister, a federal mediator, WestJet brass and pilots’ union leaders are all still at the bargaining table, but around 1,800 WestJet and Swoop pilots are expected to walk off the job across the country early Friday if there isn’t a new contract.
Rosset said the airports authority is working with the airlines to get the word out to travellers about the potential for disruption.
“(We’re trying) to let passengers who may be impacted — or may not have seen that email or important communication from the airline — know the steps on what they need to do to contact the airline to rebook, or to find alternative options, if needed,” he said.
“If you’re planning to fly with WestJet or Swoop today or even in the coming days, it’s important that you check the status of your flight before leaving home.
“Keep an eye open for any important communication from your airlines.”
The most up-to-date information on flights can be found on the airport’s departure site or on social media, and Rosset said it’s important that travellers contact the airlines directly for help making new travel arrangements or re-booking, rather than showing up at the airport and hoping to make last-minute changes.
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