Calgary-based WestJet stated right this moment that after months of negotiations, it has formally ended talks with the federal authorities on a monetary assist bundle to assist the airline throughout 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 world wide 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 assist, to main the secure restart of the journey and tourism sector,” WestJet stated within the assertion.
The federal authorities stated it and the airline agreed “mutually … to droop constructive discussions” and it is open to restarting talks sooner or later if crucial.
Main airways have been lobbying the federal government for months for monetary assist. The carriers argued an assist bundle was desperately wanted as a lifeline for an trade hit arduous 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 change for refunding passengers for flights cancelled throughout the pandemic.
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 assist bundle. The dad or mum firm of Porter Airways acquired a federal mortgage of as much as $270 million.
Conservative transport critic Stephanie Kusie took goal at Transport Minister Omar Alghabra following WestJet’s announcement. Alghabra posted a video on social media earlier right this moment exhibiting he met with recalled WestJet workers this morning.
“You tried to idiot us right this moment with your entire constructive @WestJet posts,” tweeted Kusie. “The reality comes out. This announcement proves the trade all the time knew they had 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 stated that it has offered “substantial assist” to the airline sector.
“That assist so far contains 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 stated firm by no means wished a “bailout”
Earlier than getting into talks with the federal government, WestJet’s president and CEO Ed Sims stated it wasn’t concerning the cash and his firm was not looking for a “bailout.” As a substitute, the airline stated it wished the federal government to put out a restoration plan for the trade, he stated.
WestJet’s books are closed to the general public because it’s privately owned by Toronto-based Onex Corp.
“We aren’t looking for coverage that strictly helps our backside line and, frankly, that isn’t 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 induced some rigidity on the talks. The talks that began within the new yr with Deputy Finance Minister Michael Sabia are confidential and people concerned have signed non-disclosure agreements.
In right this moment’s assertion, WestJet stated it stays open to resuming talks with the federal government about monetary assist sooner or later.
WestJet just lately apologized and stated it made an error by refusing some prospects’ refunds for rebooked flights throughout the pandemic. The admission got here after a CBC Information investigation into complaints from prospects.