Wasaya pilots fly the Stanley Cup, along with 5,000 pounds of donated hockey equipment, to the Sandy Lake First Nation in February 2017.
Last year, Wasaya pilots were flying through new territory. A restructure at their company had brought in new management and a new board of directors. A new contract, negotiated in just 11 days, had resulted in pay raises, a reduction in work schedules, and substantial increases in vacation time. The airline also added a new destination, Winnipeg, Man., and four Dash 8s to the fleet. It was a new beginning for Wasaya and the pilot group, which had seen its share of turbulence over the nine years that it’s been part of ALPA.
As 2017 came to a close, the airline was focusing on growth and recruiting new pilots onto the property. The pilot group has worked with management to increase recruitment efforts, including reaching out to colleges and to the First Nation high schools. Capt. James Harding, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman, has visited with students to talk about flying and pursuing a career in aviation, coordinating with ALPA’s Education Committee to provide educational materials and handouts. Wasaya also participates in the Jazz Aviation pathways program that provides career progression from college to airlines like Wasaya then to Jazz and, potentially, to Air Canada.
“We not only offer attractive pay scales—especially after our recent contract—but also a quality of life rarely found as a pilot,” said Harding. “Our pilots are home most nights. I get up in the morning, make my 10-minute drive to the airport (12 if I hit both lights on the way), and I’m at work. Few airlines offer this kind of work-life balance. It’s what keeps many of our pilots at Wasaya, and it’s what keeps me here as well.”
“The relationship we’ve developed with management has allowed us to create careers for our pilots at Wasaya and to recruit new pilots to our cockpits,” Harding noted. “We’re proud of our growth, our company, and our productive cooperation with our management. We’re looking forward to welcoming more new pilots to Wasaya and negotiating our next contract in 2019. It took us 11 days the last time. Maybe we can get that down to 10.”