Omicron forces WestJet to cancel some flights, consolidate others

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Those flying with WestJet should brace for changes to their travel plans.

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Interim CEO Harry Taylor announced on Thursday that the “unpredictable” spread of the Omicron variant in the company’s workforce has led to a significant increase in delays and cancellations over the past 72 hours. The Calgary-based airline is now planning to consolidate 15 per cent of its flights through Jan. 31.

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“Despite all contingency planning, in addition to hiring back thousands of WestJetters to safely support peak operations, we find ourselves no longer able to predictably resource our planned schedule due to Omicron impact,” Taylor said in a press release.

“Schedule changes will be implemented over the coming days, and while consolidation is a last resort, it demonstrates the reality of the service we planned versus that we can now realistically deliver.”

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WestJet will prioritize the consolidation of flights that will have the least amount of disruption and all impacted travellers will be notified.

Refunds or the option to change plans will be available to for WestJet initiated cancellations or schedule changes where the change is greater than 90 minutes or one or more stops added.

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Taylor called on support from federal and provincial governments to minimize disruption. He pointed to the Canadian airline system being the only fully vaccinated ecosystem and the most tested consumer sector in Canada.

“National alignment and standardization for our sector, similar to the approaches being taken by provinces to stabilize other essential services such as healthcare, would remove inconsistent provincial isolation requirements that are restricting staffing abilities,” he said.

More to come…

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