Calgary-based WestJet said today that after months of negotiations, it has officially concluded negotiations with the federal government on a financial assistance program to help the airline during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline’s statement this afternoon came the day after Canada announced plans to reopen its borders next month to fully vaccinate U.S. citizens and travellers from all over the world in September.
WestJet said in a statement: “Given the encouraging vaccination rates across the country, both parties have agreed to shift the focus from these negotiations, from taxpayer-sponsored support to leading the safe restart of travel and tourism.”
For months, major airlines have been lobbying the government for financial help. The carrier believes that there is an urgent need for a package of assistance as the lifeline of an industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic. As airlines endured border closures, travel restrictions and quarantine orders, air travel fell to historical lows.
Several airlines have entered into multi-million or billion-dollar deals with the government in exchange for passenger refunds for flights cancelled during the pandemic.
Air Canada and the federal government reached a low-interest loan agreement of 5.9 billion Canadian dollars; the government holds a US$500 million equity in the company. Air Transat also received a $700 million support program. The parent company of Porter Airlines received a federal loan of up to $270 million.
After WestJet announced the news, conservative transportation commentator Stephanie Kusie took aim at Transportation Secretary Omar Alghabra. Algabra posted a video on social media earlier today showing that he met with the recalled WestJet employees this morning.
“You tried to fool us with all your positive @WestJet posts today,” Kusie tweeted. “The truth is clear. This statement proves that the industry has always known that they are on their own and is ready to move on without you.”
WestJet’s chief executive said the company never wanted “rescue”
Before negotiating with the government, WestJet’s president and CEO Ed Sims stated that it has nothing to do with money and his company does not seek “bailouts”. Instead, the airline stated that it wants the government to develop a recovery plan for the industry, he said.
WestJet’s books are not open to the public because it is privately owned by Toronto-based Onex.
Sims said in a letter to members of Congress and Senators in December 2020: “We are not seeking to strictly support our bottom line policy. Frankly speaking, this is not what the country needs.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Report In March, WestJet’s plan to restart domestic air travel caused some tension in the negotiations. The talks with Deputy Minister of Finance Michael Sabia (Michael Sabia) started in the new year are confidential, and the parties have signed a confidentiality agreement.
In today’s statement, WestJet stated that it is still willing to resume negotiations with the government on future financial support.
WestJet recently Apologize and say it made a mistake By denying refunds for flights that some customers rebooked during the pandemic.After enrollment Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Survey Become a customer complaint.