WestJet Slashes Capacity, Blaming "Rushed" Gov't Testing Regime; 1,000 Staff Impacted

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Ed Sims

Number of departures returns to levels not seen since JUN 2001.

Ed Sims, CEO of WestJet, said the Canadian government's new policy on pre-departure tests for international travellers leaves the carrier with no other option, but to implement massive network cuts and place large numbers of employees on leave. Sims called it "a cruel outcome for loyal and hardworking staff who have been diligently working through the pandemic."      

"Immediately following the federal government's inbound testing announcement on December 31, and with the continuation of the 14-day quarantine, we saw significant reductions in new bookings and unprecedented cancellations," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.

"The entire travel industry and its customers are again on the receiving end of incoherent and inconsistent government policy. We have advocated over the past 10 months for a coordinated testing regime on Canadian soil, but this hasty new measure is causing Canadian travellers unnecessary stress and confusion and may make travel unaffordable, unfeasible and inaccessible for Canadians for years to come." 

The airline is removing 30 percent of its currently planned FEB and MAR capacity from the schedule, a year-over-year reduction of more than 80 per cent. In addition, the airline will reduce domestic frequencies by 160 departures as frequently evolving advisories, travel restrictions and guidance "continue to negatively impact demand trends."

Specific to international markets, capacity will be down 93 per cent year-over-year where the airline will be operating only five daily flights compared to 100 last year

The airline will operate approximately 150 daily departures, returning to levels not seen since JUN 2001.

As a result of the reduction in capacity, the equivalent of 1,000 employees across the WestJet Group of Companies will be impacted through a combination of furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves and reduced hours. There will also be a hiring freeze implemented.

The airline is suspending service to popular sun and U.S. destinations, including:

  • Edmonton-Cancun
  • Edmonton- Puerto Vallarta
  • Edmonton-Phoenix
  • Vancouver-Cancun
  • Vancouver-Phoenix
  • Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta
  • Vancouver-Cabo
  • Vancouver-Los Angeles
  • Vancouver-Palm Springs
  • Calgary-Las Vegas
  • Calgary-Orlando

It is also suspending seasonal service to 13 international and transborder destinations, including Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Huatulco, Ixtapa, London (Gatwick), Mazatlán, Nassau (Bahamas), Port of Spain, San Jose (Costa Rica), Tampa, and Turks and Caicos.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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