WestJet pilots get 24% pay hike in deal with Air Canada

WestJet pilots get 24% pay hike in deal with Air Canada

WestJet pilots will get a salary raise of 24% over four years, plus other pay and benefits as part of a tentative agreement reached in May.

It was reached by WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association ALPA less than 24 hours before the start of an expected strike at Canada's second-largest carrier.

The deal, awaiting approval by WestJet pilots, 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.

The pilots of North American aviators are demanding more pay and better schedules, as the United States aviators made big gains in a deal with Delta Air Lines that resulted in a 34% pay hike over four years.

Besides the 24% increase, the WestJet deal also provides back pay to Jan. 1, along with additional benefits and restructuring of retirement funds, according to an executive summary published by the Canadian Press.

By Monday, Air Canada's estimated 4,500 pilots who have joined ALPA must decide whether to remain within the framework of a 10-year agreement reached in 2014 or use a type of escape clause to enter full negotiations this year.

Air Canada, which is not currently in talks, said it abides by the 10-year contract.

A top-paid Air Canada B 787 pilot earns C $313.81 $234.68 an hour, according to an internal table seen by Reuters. As of July 2023, a comparable B 787 pilot would make C $319.25, with pay increasing to C $347.16 by 2026.

The deal will also fully integration the flight operations of WestJet's budget carrier, Swoop, into its mainline by October 2024.