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WestJet pilots protest ‘outsourced’ flights to Swoop in Calgary – Global News

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About 50 WestJet pilots protested outside the Calgary International Airport on Sunday to draw attention to what they call the “outsourcing” of WestJet flights to low-cost carrier Swoop.

Though both are owned by the same company — the WestJet Group — protesters said Swoop is flying WestJet’s routes, which means fewer hours for WestJet pilots.

“The biggest issue for us is routes that have been flown by WestJet Airlines over the last two decades are now being flown by Swoop,” said Capt. Dave Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council chair.

“When Swoop was initially envisioned, we were told that wouldn’t happen. Now that it started to happen, especially out of Toronto, we’re concerned about that and we want to bring that concern to the public view.”

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WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Colquhoun said pilots want to see the WestJet Group consult all members on how to grow Swoop.

“They’ve done it unilaterally and they’ve done it in an environment where just recently we gave in major concessions to help them weather the storm,” he said.

“Our pilots have taken substantial cuts in wages and working conditions in order to help our airline through this pandemic. Right now, our guys are flying about a half to a third of what they were a year ago.”

Read more:
WestJet cuts ‘just the leading edge’ if feds don’t provide aid to airlines: experts

The WestJet Group responded to the union’s concerns, telling Global News that Swoop is important to the company’s future.

“[Swoop] is well-positioned to serve price-sensitive travellers while stimulating demand in Canada’s largest market,” it said.

“After a drop in guest traffic of up to 95 per cent and with recovery slower than anticipated, stimulating demand in our industry is critical for our group’s survival. Toronto is our country’s largest air travel market, and every guest who flies with WestJet, Encore or Swoop is a win for our group, assisting in our recovery and supporting our collective future.”

The WestJet Group said its focus is “ensuring we have a long-term sustainable future” while “providing good jobs for thousands.”

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There is no anticipated impact on WestJet operations.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada says U.S. ties could be undermined if Michigan shuts pipeline

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A day before Michigan’s deadline to close down a key crude oil pipeline, Canada on Tuesday issued its strongest remarks so far, saying the move could undermine relations with the United States, its closest ally and trading partner.

Enbridge Inc is preparing for a legal battle with Michigan and courting protests from environmental groups, betting it can ignore the state’s Wednesday deadline to shut down Line 5, which runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

The Canadian government said in a U.S. federal court filing that Michigan had no right to act unilaterally since a 1977 Canada-U.S. pipeline treaty guarantees the free flow of oil between the two nations.

“This case raises concerns regarding the efficacy of the historic framework upon which the U.S.-Canada relationship has been successfully managed for generations,” Ottawa said.

Michigan’s move “threatens to undermine important aspects of that cooperative international relationship”, it added.

The brief said Canada would suffer “massive and

potentially permanent disruption” from a shutdown. Line 5 brings 540,000 barrel-per-day of oil from western Canada to refineries and airports in Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

In November, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave Enbridge six months to shut down the pipeline that runs four miles (6.4 km) along the bottom of Lake Michigan-Huron, citing fears it could rupture.

The order needs a confirmatory order from a judge to enforce it, and Enbridge and Michigan are disputing whether the issue should be heard in state or U.S. federal court.

The sides are in court-ordered mediation, with the next session scheduled for May 18.

“We will not stop operating the pipeline unless we are ordered by a court or our regulator, which we view as highly unlikely,” Enbridge spokeswoman Tracie Kenyon said in a statement this week.

Joe Comartin, Canada‘s consul general in Detroit who is arguing on behalf of Ottawa, said litigation could drag on until at least 2024.

“I don’t see a court jumping the gun and ordering it closed … until the litigation and constitutional issues are resolved,” he said by phone.

Canada has been lobbying https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/frustrated-canada-presses-white-house-keep-great-lakes-oil-pipeline-open-2021-04-26 Washington officials to keep the pipeline open in what is likely to be an election year in Canada, but the White House has so far not weighed in.

Ontario estimates the city of Sarnia, across the border from Michigan, could lose 5,000 refinery and chemical plant jobs. Industry lobbyists say thousands of U.S. jobs are in danger.

Environmentalists and indigenous groups opposed to Line 5 say the potential job losses are exaggerated. They plan “Evict Enbridge” rallies in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We are very hopeful to hear from the governor that there will be accountability measures for operating that pipeline,” said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation.

Michigan is reviewing what it could do if Enbridge keeps operating past the deadline, said a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General.

Canadian crude market forward prices suggest most traders do not expect Line 5 to shut in coming months, but the lack of certainty is concerning, said one Calgary-based market source.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Nia Williams; Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy)

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Enbridge vows to keep pipeline open, girds for legal fight with Michigan

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Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc is squaring off for a legal battle with Michigan and courting protests from environmental groups, betting it can ignore the U.S. state‘s Wednesday deadline to shut its oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

“We will not stop operating the pipeline unless we are ordered by a court or our regulator, which we view as highly unlikely,” Enbridge spokeswoman Tracie Kenyon said in a statement this week, ahead of Michigan’s deadline for shutting the line.

Line 5 is a link in Enbridge’s network to bring oil exports from western Canada to refineries and airports in Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. In November, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave Enbridge six months to shut down the 540,000 barrel-per-day pipeline that runs four miles along the bottom of Lake Michigan-Huron, citing fears it could rupture and spill.

The state’s order still needs a confirmatory order from a judge to enforce it, and Enbridge and Michigan are disputing whether the issue should be heard in state or U.S. federal court.

The sides are in court-ordered mediation, with the next session scheduled for May 18.

Joe Comartin, Canada‘s consul general in Detroit who is arguing on behalf of the country’s federal government, said litigation could drag on until at least 2024.

“I don’t see a court jumping the gun and ordering it closed … until the litigation and constitutional issues are resolved,” he said in an interview.

The Canadian government has been lobbying officials in Washington to keep the pipeline open in what is likely to be an election year in Canada, but the White House has so far not weighed in on the matter.

The Ontario government estimates that the city of Sarnia, just across the border from Michigan, could lose 5,000 refinery and chemical plant jobs. Industry lobbyists say thousands of jobs are also at risk in the United States.

Environmentalists and indigenous groups opposed to Line 5 say the potential job losses are exaggerated, and are planning “Evict Enbridge” rallies in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Past May 12, Enbridge will be operating illegally as per state laws. We are very hopeful to hear from the governor that there will be accountability measures for operating that pipeline,” said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation.

Michigan is reviewing what remedies would be available to the state if Enbridge keeps operating past the deadline, said Lynsey Mukomel, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General.

Canadian crude market forward prices suggest most traders do not expect Line 5 to shut in coming months, but the lack of certainty is concerning, said one Calgary-based market source.

“We are looking at all our options and we will leave no stone unturned in defending Canada‘s energy security,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told an emergency parliamentary debate on the pipeline last Thursday.

“We will be ready to intervene strategically at precisely the right moment,” he continued, without giving details.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Nia Williams; Editing by David Gregorio)

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U.S. State Dept approves potential sale of AEGIS Combat System to Canada

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The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale to Canada of 4 AEGIS Combat Systems made by Lockheed Martin in a deal valued at up to $1.7 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The Pentagon said the sale of the powerful missile and radar systems to the NATO ally would “significantly improve” network-centric warfare capabilities for U.S. forces operating globally alongside Canada‘s.

AEGIS systems are primarily used aboard ships though they have been adapted for land use.

The package would include four shipsets worth of the AEGIS Combat System and three shipsets of the MK 41 Vertical Launch System as well as support equipment, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Monday.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

 

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)

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