WestJet Encore

One of WestJet Encore’s Dash 8-Q 400s at Kelowna International Airport during sunrise. Photo: F/O Kurt Morris (WestJet Encore)

At A Glance

Pilots joined ALPA: 2017

Number of pilots/flightcrew members: 322

Pilot bases: Calgary, Alb., and Toronto, Ont.

Hubs/key markets: Vancouver, B.C., and Calgary and Edmonton, Alb.

Headquarters: Calgary, Alb.

Operations: WestJet Encore flies to various destinations across Canada.

Fleet: 47 Dash 8-Q400s

On the surface, 2023 was a banner year for WestJet Encore pilots as they were busier than ever flying more block hours. However, the airline faced serious pilot attraction and retention issues, and the remaining pilots were left to fly a more challenging schedule, were overworked, and faced increased fatigue issues.

Finding a solution to pilot attraction and retention was a priority for the pilots when negotiations formally began in September. From day one of talks, the pilots made clear that addressing these issues so that Encore could become a leader in Canadian regional flying would require drastic improvements to career progression, seniority, and career recognition for those pilots who flow up to mainline carrier WestJet by ensuring pay seniority bidding.

Unfortunately, despite a large number of pilots leaving the WestJet Encore ranks throughout the year, management remained unwilling to address the pilot group’s main concerns or provide a solution that could fix the issues affecting the pilots and the airline. This left the pilots with no choice but to file for federal conciliation, a process that will allow the pilot group to seek government assistance to reach an agreement with management.

Despite the filing, the pilots remain hopeful that as negotiations continue in 2024, management will recognize their experience and the value they bring to the airline and provide long-term solutions that will address wages, working conditions, seniority, job security, career recognition, and progression.

The sun sets behind a WestJet Encore Dash 8-Q400 at Vancouver International Airport’s Gate 6. Photo: Capt. Christopher Low (WestJet Encore)