Breaking News: November 19, 2020 0700am MST
Aviation Forums and Social media exploded on Wednesday with rumors that Westjet had fired 4 of their pilots and suspended another 4 because of posts they made on social media. Scudrunners.com has reached out to Westjet and ALPA the union representing Westjet Pilots for comment. However at the time of publication neither has replied.
The twitter hashtag “#covidcapitalism” has been trending on the social media platform since the start of the pandemic. The hashtag has been used to call out companies they see as profiteering from the pandemic. Recently many of those posts have taken aim at Westjet airlines. These appears to stem from Westjet pilots upset over the company transferring routes long served by Westjet to their low cost subsidiary SWOOP.
Prior to the pandemic Westjet and its pilots fought protracted negotiations over compensation and working conditions. Those negotiations eventually led to Westjet Pilots unionizing in May of 2017. Four months later in September of 2017 the Westjet Group announced it would be forming a new “Ultra Low Cost Carrier” to be named SWOOP. To many industry observers that move was a direct result of the Pilots vote to unionize.
This new ULCC SWOOP was said to cater to lower yielding market routes and to protect market share from other new start up discount Airlines.
As governments implemented travel restrictions and lockdowns every airline fought to keep their heads above water. At some airlines revenue was down as much as 80% – 90%.
Users on Twitter and other social media platform allege that Westjet is using the pandemic as an opportunity to force its employee’s into lower paying positions for the same work by transferring routes from the “Mainline” to the “ULCC”.
Pilots are obviously frustrated with these tactics and some have taken their case to Social Media which appears that has caught the attention of Westjet management. Last month Westjet Pilot held rallies outside the Calgary International Airport airing their grievances to the public. (See Link)