No pilots, no panic: Travel agent warns against worries ahead of potential strike

WestJet pilots issuing a notice of a strike just days before the May long weekend shouldn’t cause panic for travelers just yet.

Terry Kaszas, general manager of travel services for CAA Saskatchewan, said travel agents have been getting a few questions and concerns with the looming threat of a strike.

As a strike hasn’t officially started, however, he said there haven’t been too many frentic calls yet.

Kaszas advised travelers not to be concerned.

“I don’t think they should be worried just yet. Let’s wait and see what happens before we cause any panic,” he said.

His biggest piece of advice was to get in contact with a travel agent if a strike did happen.

Travel agents, he said, are starting to already get instructions about what they can do for clients to be prepared in that situation. Presently, Kaszas said there is a free change or cancellation open to travelers between Tuesday and Sunday because of the pending situation.

“Obviously, we’re going to take care of everybody that we can, whether they were customers or not,” Kaszas said.

This latest travel turbulence comes less than six months after the Sunwing fiasco that plagued Christmas and hot-weather getaways in the early winter months of the year.

Kaszas also pointed back to COVID-19 as a recent example of a major travel upset for travelers and the industry.

“It’s been a pretty sad state of affairs for the past couple of years,” he said.

However, should a strike take place, Kaszas thinks a quick solution will be found.

“Nobody wants this,” he said. “I think everybody’s going to be taken care of very quickly.”

An emailed statement from the Skyxe Saskatoon Airport said the WestJet group issued a lockout notice on Tuesday to the Air Line Pilots Association that represents WestJet and Swoop pilots, responding to their strike notification.

The statement said the Saskatoon Airport team will continue to work closely with WestJet “on how this will impact our community.”

If the strike proceeds, canceled flights and fewer flights are anticipated at the Saskatoon Airport.

Should a strike happen, WestJet said it would manage the impacts on passengers through a reduced flight schedule, proactive management of changes and cancellations to ensure communication with passengers and flexible change and cancel options.

Passengers are encouraged to monitor their flight status and reach out to the airline directly for information or requests to change travel plans.

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