Tuesday,  November 28, 2023  3:10 pm

COVID-19: WestJet eyes reducing capacity, hiring freeze

COVID-19: WestJet eyes reducing capacity, hiring freeze
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Following an announcement by the World Health Organization which declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic, WestJet is considering a number of options in order to protect its financial health.

While many actions have been taken to protect the health and safety of WestJet's guests over the last few weeks, including implementing a flexible change policy for March, "significantly weakened demand across the network requires us to protect the financial well-being of the WestJet Group of Companies," WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said.

"This situation is compounded by the airspace closure to the MAX, for close to 365 days, over which time we have battled relentlessly to ensure the business could cope with the grounding of 13 of our newest and most efficient aircraft," Morgan continued. "We are reviewing our network to both reduce and temporarily pause an additional 12 per cent, or more, of our capacity. Reductions may include domestic, transatlantic, sun destinations and transborder and we will continue to adjust as demand changes. Details will be released when specifics are available."

WestJet is also undertaking immediate cost reduction initiatives, including the following but not limited to:

  • The freezing of discretionary spending
  • A company-wide hiring freeze
  • Offering voluntary-leave options

Updates to change/cancel policy

Effective immediately, WestJet has made updates to its flexible change and cancel policy for existing bookings as follows:

For flights booked before March 3, 2020 for travel in March or April 2020:

  • $0 one-time fee waiver for changes or cancellations
  • Change or cancellation must be requested at least 24 hours prior to departure
  • Value of cancelled flights will be returned as a credit to your Travel Bank
  • If you change your flight, the difference in fare applies

"The continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is a situation that has gripped the world and the effects on our business have been dramatic," said Morgan Bell, media spokesperson for WestJet, to PAX in a statement. "Despite these difficult times, WestJet will not compromise the safety of our guests or our employees. We have been taking, and will continue to take, all steps to ensure our airline operates safely."

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