WestJet drops out of talks with government on pandemic aid

WestJet drops out of talks with government on pandemic aid

Calgary-based WestJet mentioned at the moment that after months of negotiations, it has formally ended talks with the federal authorities on a monetary support bundle to assist the airline through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assertion from the airline, launched this afternoon, comes a day after Canada introduced it plans to reopen the border to completely vaccinated U.S. residents subsequent month and to vaccinated travellers from all over the world in September.

“Given encouraging vaccination charges throughout the nation, each events have mutually agreed to shift focus from these negotiations, and away from taxpayer-funded help, to main the secure restart of the journey and tourism sector,” WestJet mentioned within the assertion.

The federal authorities mentioned it and the airline agreed “mutually … to droop constructive discussions” and it is open to restarting talks sooner or later if vital.

Main airways have been lobbying the federal government for months for monetary assist. The carriers argued an support bundle was desperately wanted as a lifeline for an business hit exhausting by the pandemic. Air journey dropped to historic lows as airways endured border closures, journey restrictions and quarantine orders.

A number of carriers already have reached multimillion or multibillion greenback offers with the authorities in alternate for refunding passengers for flights cancelled through the pandemic.

WestJet’s total passenger volumes dropped practically 90 per cent in 2020 in comparison with the 12 months earlier than. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press )

Air Canada reached a $5.9 billion cope with the federal authorities consisting of low-interest loans; the federal government took a $500 million fairness stake within the firm. Air Transat additionally secured a $700 million help bundle. The guardian firm of Porter Airways acquired a federal mortgage of as much as $270 million.

Conservative transport critic Stephanie Kusie took intention at Transport Minister Omar Alghabra following WestJet’s announcement. Alghabra posted a video on social media earlier at the moment exhibiting he met with recalled WestJet workers this morning.

“You tried to idiot us at the moment with all your constructive @WestJet posts,” tweeted Kusie. “The reality comes out. This announcement proves the business all the time knew they have been on their very own and are prepared to maneuver on with out you.”

The workplace of Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Finance Chrystia Freeland mentioned that it has offered “substantial help” to the airline sector.

“That help thus far consists of greater than $2 billion in wage subsidies for airways and $1 billion introduced within the Fall Financial Assertion for airports and smaller airways,” wrote Freeland’s press secretary Kat Cuplinskas. 

WestJet’s CEO mentioned firm by no means wished a “bailout”

Earlier than getting into talks with the federal government, WestJet’s president and CEO Ed Sims mentioned it wasn’t concerning the cash and his firm was not looking for a “bailout.” As a substitute, the airline mentioned it wished the federal government to put out a restoration plan for the business, he mentioned.

WestJet’s books are closed to the general public because it’s privately owned by Toronto-based Onex Corp.

“We’re not looking for coverage that strictly helps our backside line and, frankly, that’s not what the nation wants,” Sims wrote to MPs and senators in December 2020.

CBC Information has reported that in March, WestJet’s demand for a plan to restart home air journey prompted some stress on the talks. The talks that began within the new 12 months with Deputy Finance Minister Michael Sabia are confidential and people concerned have signed non-disclosure agreements.

In at the moment’s assertion, WestJet mentioned it stays open to resuming talks with the federal government about monetary help sooner or later.

WestJet just lately apologized and mentioned it made an error by refusing some clients’ refunds for rebooked flights through the pandemic. The admission got here after a CBC Information investigation into complaints from clients.

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