WestJet ratifies contract with Swoop pilots, to integrate airline into main ops

(Reuters) – Onex Corp’s WestJet and pilots at its budget carrier Swoop ratified a new four-year agreement for pay hikes and job security, the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) said on Friday.

As negotiated in the agreement, WestJet said it will begin integrating the ultra-low-cost airline into its mainline operations by the end of October.

“This integration will enhance our ability to serve a broader spectrum of guests,” WestJet said in a statement on Friday.

“Instead of only 16 aircraft serving the ultra-low-cost market, each aircraft, in our 180-strong fleet, will offer ultra-affordable travel options through to a premium inflight experience.”

The deal is expected to put pressure on Air Canada as the larger rival faces a call from its pilots to narrow the earnings gap with higher-paid aviators in the United States.

North American pilots are pressing for higher salaries and better scheduling after U.S. aviators made big gains in a recent deal with Delta Air Lines, which delivers a 34% pay increase over four years.

Swoop will operate its existing network through to the end of its published schedule on October 28, and Swoop employees will move to WestJet, WestJet said in a statement.

The agreement is in effect from January 1, 2023, and will be in place until December 31, 2026.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes and Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)