WestJet pilots reject tentative deal; strike not expected

TORONTO Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:12pm EST

A Westjet Boeing 737-700 takes off at the International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, May 3, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol

A Westjet Boeing 737-700 takes off at the International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, May 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Todd Korol

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Pilots at WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) turned down a tentative agreement with the company, Canada's second largest airline said on Friday, but the airline said no labor disruption was expected.

The growing, Calgary-based low-cost carrier is not unionized. WestJet pilots, represented by the non-union group WestJet Pilots Association, voted against the deal by a 58.7 percent margin, with 96 percent of pilots casting a vote, the airline said in a statement.

"There is no chance of a labor disruption of any kind," said WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer in an email.

"Our pilots, like all WestJetters, have a vested interest in the health and stability of the company, and it will be business as usual as we head toward the busy Christmas travel season."

WestJet did not disclose details of the rejected proposal and efforts to contact the pilot's association were not successful.

WestJet's chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said the airline was disappointed with the results and that it would continue to work toward a new agreement. The current deal remains in place until a new one is reached, the airline said.

WestJet, which launched a regional carrier this summer and announced its first trans-Atlantic flight for next summer, saw its stock finish a modest 0.2 percent higher at C$27.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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