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A possible change in the Canadian airline industry.....

There could be a significant change occurring with WestJet in the near future. Since their inception, they've been proud of the fact that their workforce has been non-union, and all workers are also "owners". That could be changing in the near future as their pilots are now preparing to hold a vote that could lead to the first union in the short history of the airline. If they're successful, it's certainly possible that flight attendants and other staff could do the same thing.

Here's the article.....

http://business.financialpost.com/news/transportation/a-twist-in-the-tale-air-canada-pilots-find-labour-peace-while-westjet-sees-cultural-strain

They've enjoyed a competitive advantage in labour costs vs. Air Canada, but that may not be the case in future.

Posted by
1604 posts

Ken, despite the labour cost savings I've always found that when I've booked a flight on a route both Air Canada and WestJet fly, the price was almost the same to the penny.

Interestingly, in the article it mentions flight time limits being a problem on AC. In 2011 I had a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto on WestJet cancelled because the pilots had too many hours in. I was pleased they put us up for the night and gave us a $25 food voucher, but overall not pleased with the flights. I found the joke told by the flight attendant to be offensive.

We used them again in 2012 and they kept our entire plane waiting for over an hour for one man. Nice, if you're that man, but the rest on the flight were unimpressed.

Overall, not a fan of WestJet, but not to the point I wouldn't fly with them if the price, and flight times, were right.

Posted by
32273 posts

Andrea,

I've noticed the same thing with the pricing. I suppose that's how you stay competitive and make money at the same time. They also seem to adopt the same policies regarding charges for checked luggage. WestJet started first, and then AC added the charge to be "competitive". What a crock! That was the same week that AC announced their highest earnings in their 80+ year history.

Your thoughts on WestJet are not surprising. A few months ago their ratings on the SkyTrax website were the lowest I've ever seen them. There were a LOT of complaints! One passenger on their inaugural St. John's - Dublin flight described it as the worst flight he had ever experienced (can't remember all the details of his post). To be fair, AC Rouge has also been receiving dreadful ratings since they started business (not sure if that's improved lately?). Unfortunately, AC has been replacing regular flights on many of their routes with Rouge flights (ie: Vancouver - Honolulu or Vancouver - Vegas). Thankfully for passengers in this area, there's a bright spot on the horizon (pun intended). I can use Horizon / Alaska on both those routes, which is preferable as they're still getting reasonably good ratings from passengers.

Posted by
4066 posts

Of more immediate significance, WestJet has announced service to Gatwick airport, beginning next year. Few North American airlines use London's second airport, which has fairly easy ground connections to the city centre. WestJet will fly B-767s on the run instead of the narrow-bodied 737s that make up most of its fleet. Departure cities were not included in the announcement, which you can read here http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1556295/westjet-announces-service-to-london-gatwick
Unionized or not, adding competition to Air Canada and Air Transat (also a Gatwick carrier) has to be a hopeful move for customers.

Posted by
32273 posts

Southam,

That's interesting! I knew they were picking up a couple of used 767's but hadn't heard which routes they would be using them on. I suspect they'll switch those aircraft to the sun destinations in the winter (Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico).

This is probably going to be a game changer in some ways. I believe the landing charges at Heathrow are somewhat higher than at Gatwick, so this could put WestJet in more competitive position and also siphon-off some of the Air Transat passengers. They haven't announced which cities they'll be flying from, but I suspect Vancouver will be one of them and it's possible that flight could make a stop in Kelowna on the way, which would be good for me.

Hopefully WestJet doesn't model their international service the same as Air Canada Rouge. I read a review on the SkyTrax website from a passenger that flew on the inaugural WJ flight from St. John's to Dublin. It was described as the worst flight the person had ever experienced! Reviews like that are frequent in the AC Rouge section of the SkyTrax site.