The Buzz

WestJet cancels more than 400 flights after a surprise strike by mechanics union

Canada’s second largest airline, WestJet, said it canceled 407 flights affecting 49,000 passengers after the maintenance workers union announced it went on strike.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said its members started to strike Friday evening because the airline’s “unwillingness to negotiate with the union” made it inevitable.

The surprise strike affecting international and domestic flights came after the federal government issued a ministerial order for binding arbitration on Thursday. That followed two weeks of turbulent discussions with the union on a new deal.

WestJet said it will continue to park aircraft through Sunday for the long weekend culminating in Canada Day today. The airline has about 200 aircraft and says they’ll operate approximately 30 by Sunday evening.

The airline’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, put the blame for the situation squarely on what he said was a “rogue union from the U.S.” that was trying to make inroads in Canada.

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