WestJet planes at YLW. (Capital News file photo)

WestJet planes at YLW. (Capital News file photo)

Status quo for WestJet at Kelowna International Airport despite airline’s cutbacks

Airport roles will be contracted out but WestJet didn’t say how many Kelowna employees will be let go

Changes are coming to WestJet but the airline’s services at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) will remain unchanged, according to senior manager of airport operations Philip Elchitz.

In June, the airline announced “organizational changes” to help it offer streamlined services and keep it moving forward following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout the course of the biggest crisis in the history of aviation, WestJet has made many difficult, but essential, decisions to future-proof our business,” WestJet’s president and CEO Ed Sims said in the June announcement.

The airline said 3,333 of its employees across the country will be affected by the changes.

Elchitz said the changes don’t mean fewer flights into and out of the Okanagan region from YLW, and terminal services at WestJet kiosks won’t be changing either.

“We’re not expecting any cutbacks to WestJet’s current service as a result of the transition to the Airport Terminal Services contract,” he said.

“We’re expecting to see the same level of air service for the balance of the winter and into the spring.”

Elchitz didn’t specify what that would mean for WestJet employees who work at the airline’s kiosks at YLW, but he did say the role will be filled by airport terminal services staff.

WestJet did not comment on how many of their employees based at YLW will be let go as a result of the changes.

“The COVID-19 crisis hit WestJet and the global aviation industry with devastating force,” the airline’s communications staff said.

“Since the beginning of March, guest traffic has dropped significantly. We are operating at approximately 75% reduction year over year.”

WestJet said it will seek out preferential employment opportunities for as many of its airport roles as possible.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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AirportCity of KelownaWestJet