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COVID-19-related layoffs averted for 1,000 WestJet pilots

Last Updated Apr 30, 2020 at 6:51 pm PST

FILE -- A WestJet airlines plane at the Ottawa airport Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The union representing pilots said 1,000 of the 1,700 pilots set to be laid off will remain on the job

The airline also said it is accessing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to keep 'inactive employees' on the payroll

CALGARY (NEWS 1130) — WestJet says thanks to a new agreement, 1,000 pilot jobs have been saved.

The airline previously announced 1,700 pilots were set to be laid off on either May 1 or June 1.

Negotiations between the union and the company have resulted in an agreement, announced Thursday, that will allow about 60 per cent of those pilots to remain on the job

“I’m pleased that Airline Pilot Association (ALPA) and WestJet, through robust negotiations and collaboration have come together to minimize the impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic on our pilot groups,” said Jeff Martin, WestJet Executive Vice-President, and Chief Operating Officer in a release.

“Our pilots will be a critical element of our recovery and retaining these important roles leaves us better positioned to recover strongly and return WestJet to a global airline.”

RELATED: WestJet to layoff 1,700 pilots due to COVID-19 pandemic

The agreement covers pilots at WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop.

“The agreement we have reached is due to the dedication of the WestJet executive and the WestJet pilots, in a time where everyone is making sacrifices to protect our airline,” said Captain Dave Colquhoun with ALPA.

“ALPA’s elected leadership appreciates the time and effort that was involved in working together to minimize the impact to our members and we look forward to the time when all of our pilots, and many of the other WestJetters who are casualties of this crisis, are back to work at WestJet.”

The company sais it is using the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to keep “inactive employees” on the payroll.