WestJet passengers grounded at Calgary International Airport
Travel to and from the YYC Calgary International Airport was thrown into a bit of a tailspin on Thursday after WestJet cancelled flights ahead of Friday’s expected work stoppage relating to the pilots’ strike.
Mid-afternoon, 39 WestJet departures and 20 arrivals were cancelled, the airport’s website showed.
And according to flight tracking website FlightAware, 111 of the airline’s flights were cancelled on Thursday – 31 per cent of their flights that day.
Thursday morning, WestJet said the cancellations were part of parking the majority of its Boeing 737 and 787 fleet, minimizing the potential for the aircraft and their crew to be stranded if/when the strike took hold first thing Friday.
Travellers at YYC were having to figure out next steps for their travel plans.
WestJet begins flight cancellations ahead of strike deadline
Brad Syson said there was a bit of nervousness as he was boarding a WestJet flight to San Francisco at the Calgary International Airport on Thursday morning.
“It sounds like they’re trying to make it painless for sure, as far as cancellation and stuff like that,” he said. “Might have to book an Air Canada flight to get home.”
Kate Syson said the May long weekend trip was now a bit more complicated as more flights were being cancelled.
“Monday is a holiday, but Tuesday I have to be (back at work), so that’s a little bit nerve-wracking,” she said.
Mark Hodsdon was trying to return home to Toronto following a work trip in Calgary when he arrived at the airport and was met with the news that some WestJet flights to Pearson International Airport had been cancelled.
He said he was having a hard time getting any answers from the airline.
“I’m scrambling. I can’t get anywhere with WestJet. I bought a flight with Air Canada to get out of here on Saturday. And so basically I’ll be charging WestJet for a hotel stay and the other flight,” Hodsdon said. “It basically will be comfortable tonight in the hotel. But I needed to get back to Toronto and obviously, that’s not going to happen today.”
Air Passenger Rights president Gabor Lukacs said under the Air Passenger Protections Regulations, airlines must offer alternative travel arrangements if a flight is cancelled using a “reasonable route” on the next available flight within 48 hours of the original departure time.
Lukacs suggested a specific “sequence” for passengers to consider before seeking an alternate option.
“Wait until the flight is cancelled. Give WestJet a chance to rebook you. If they refuse to do so or fail to do so, or if they refuse to rebook you on flights of other airlines, for example, even though they don’t have their own flight within 48 hours, then you can go and buy your own ticket and then you send the bill to WestJet,” he said, adding if they still won’t pay the bill, a person can take it to small claims court.
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said the company “deeply regrets” the disruption in travel plans, but said they were “left with no choice” but to wind down operations as they remain at a “critical impasse” in contract negotiations with pilots.
Bernard Lewall, who heads the union’s WestJet contingent, has said the workers’ issues revolve around pay, job security and scheduling, and says pilots are earning roughly half of what some of their U.S. counterparts make.
More than 1,800 pilots at WestJet and its Swoop subsidiary are poised to walk off the job as of 5 a.m. eastern on Friday after the union issued a strike notice Monday night.
The airline is advising travellers to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport, and to visit WestJet’s Guest Updates page or Swoop’s information hub for more information regarding flight status and travel changes.
On Wednesday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra encouraged the two sides to reach a resolution, noting Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and a mediator — Peter Simpson, who heads the federal mediation service — are on the ground at the negotiations.
–with files from Aaron D’Andrea and Sean Previl, Global News
Maritime gas prices – CTV News Atlantic
For the most part, drivers in the Maritimes are paying slightly less for gas Friday, but the cost of diesel is up.
In mainland Nova Scotia, gas is down three cents to a minimum price of 152.9 cents per litre.
In Cape Breton, motorists are now paying a minimum price of 154.8 cents per litre for regular self-serve gasoline.
Diesel increased 2.5 cents, the minimum price is now 137.7 cents per litre.
The minimum price for diesel in Cape Breton is now 139.6 cents per litre.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
On Prince Edward Island, gas increased 1.1. cents, the minimum price is now 165.6 cents per litre.
Diesel on the island increased 1.5 cents, the minimum price is now 157.5 cents.
Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, gas is down 2.4 cents, the maximum price is now 164.6 cents per litre.
Diesel is up slightly to 0.6 cents, the maximum price is now 158.6 cents a litre.
NL Unemployment Rate Slightly Rises – VOCM
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate rose to 5.2 per cent in May, marking the first increase since August 2022.
The rate for Newfoundland and Labrador rose slightly to 10.2 per cent from 10.1. In metro, the jobless rate in May hit 5 per cent, a slight increase from the 4.9 recorded in April.
The job report comes two days after the Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, citing concerns about a string of hot economic data, including low unemployment.
May jobs numbers not enough to change Bank of Canada’s course: Experts
Canada’s labour market showed minor signs of softening in May, but economists and other experts said the Bank of Canada likely wouldn’t read the numbers as a sign that its rate-tightening campaign aimed at bringing down inflation is working.
Unemployment rose to 5.2 per cent from five per cent, the first increase since last August, according to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey for May.
The numbers released Friday said the economy lost 17,000, though employment overall was little changed.
Randall Bartlett, senior director of Canadian economics at Desjardins, cautioned that job losses were concentrated among the youngest workers in Canada as they enter the summer jobs season, and “not necessarily characteristic of what we’re seeing in the underlying labour market.” He said the job losses can’t yet be seen as a “trend.”
“We need to see how this shakes out in the months ahead, and then we’ll decide what it means for monetary policy,” Bartlett told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview.
Dominique Lapointe with Manulife Investment Management noted “small loss” mostly among the younger age group of workers should be interpreted with caution, as seasonal adjustments can be challenging for that demographic. He also pointed out that employment rose among core-aged workers.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE BANK OF CANADA?
The jobs numbers came days after the Bank of Canada resumed its interest rate tightening cycle, hiking its key rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent after a string of unexpectedly hot economic data.
Lapointe said he is expecting another rate hike next month based on recent inflation and GDP readings. He said the jobs numbers aren’t significant enough to change the central bank’s path.
“I don’t think this morning’s (Labour Force Report) report would change what’s going to happen in July. We’d probably need to see way more weakness in other economic indicators before the next meeting for them to change their course,” he said.
Jay Zhao-Murray, FX Analyst at Monex Canada, noted that the data that went against economists’ expectations for job gains in May, but agreed that the numbers wouldn’t shift the central bank’s thinking.
“With employment cooling on the whole, this latest report does weaken the case for further hikes from the Bank of Canada, but given the details and composition of employment changes, we do not think it would materially change the Bank’s latest view on the economy,” he said in a written statement.
He said he is expecting another 25-basis-point rate hike from the Bank of Canada in July, “unless the subsequent data also confirm the negative signal from today’s report.”
Economist Tuan Nguyen of RSM Canada, meanwhile, said “there are reasons to believe that May’s decline in net jobs is not a fluke,” given that most of the job losses were in business, professional services, and trades.
Taken with an uptick in the unemployment rate, he pointed to signs that “a long-awaited softening of the labor market has finally arrived.”
“Following Friday’s job data, the Bank of Canada’s decision to hike the rate to 4.75 per cent … might be the last one in this cycle. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that rates should remain at that level at least until the end of the year to ensure substantial easing of inflation,” Nguyen said in a written statement.
Wages, which the Bank of Canada has zeroed in on as a particular concern in its inflation fight, rose 5.1 per cent year-over-year in May.
Bartlett made the case that wage growth in Canada is more “subdued” than it might appear.
He noted that StatsCan’s monthly wage reading is one of several wage indicators that the Bank of Canada looks at, and others appear to be decelerating more quickly, meaning that “wages are not the concern we had anticipated” when it comes to the possibility of a “wage-price spiral” some economists fear could push inflation higher.
Regardless, Bartlett said he expects the Bank of Canada will interpret the labour force reading as a sign that Canada’s labour market remains “very tight.”
“It needs to see the unemployment rate move meaningfully higher (and) the job vacancy rate move meaningfully lower in order to be able to see wage growth come down to a level that’s consistent with two per cent inflation,” he said.
CONSUMER SPENDING CLUES
As for the sectors where people lost jobs in May, Bartlett said the data holds clues that Canadians are still spending money despite the high-interest rate environment.
“It’s not necessarily in sectors where you would think tight monetary policy and higher interest rates would be leading to job losses,” Bartlett said.
Accommodation, food services, arts and recreation were not hit particularly hard with losses, but those are areas where people generally cut back on spending in tough economic times, Bartlett said.
“We may see the consumer continue to be relatively healthy in the second quarter, and it may be maybe pointing to that still,” he said.
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