Air Canada

Air Canada reaches deal with machinists; conflict with pilots looms


Even as Air Canada removes one set of negotiations from its table, another larger conflict threatened to curtail the airline’s operations as early as next week.

The company settled with its machinists’ union, pending ratification by union members and the board of directors.

Details of the tentative deal were not released, but the union said the it was for four years, with wage and benefit improvements.

The same day, Air Canada pilots were holding a strike vote over five days. The union has accused Air Canada management of abandoning negotiations over a new contract. The major sticking point is the scope of work, and fears from the union that the company is trying to create a low-cost airline that will bypass current workers.

Air Canada confirmed in a release Thursday the low-cost option remains on the table.

Both sides will be in a legal strike or lockout position at 1201 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday morning.

In response, Westjet announced it would increase flights to accommodate passengers stranded by any stoppage.

“We can appreciate that the travelling public may be frustrated with the uncertainty associated with potential labour disruptions at Air Canada,” said Westjet Vice-President Bob Cummings.

“We have been proactively planning for weeks now, with our network team collaborating closely with flight operations to provide as many incremental flights as possible. The travelling public can book WestJet, confident that we have more flying available and in place.”