WestJet Encore reaches tentative agreement with pilots

FILE PHOTO: A Westjet Boeing 737-700 takes off at the International Airport in Calgary

(Reuters) - WestJet Encore has reached a tentative agreement with its pilots union over a new contract, the labor group said on Thursday, averting a strike at the Canadian regional carrier.

The new agreement comes amid a 72-hour strike notice issued by the union on Wednesday to the management and the government, following the failed ratification of the earlier agreement between the two sides on May 10.

"Over the coming days, our WestJet Encore membership will begin voting on the new tentative agreement," said Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore Master Executive Council.

The previous contract, which offered improved compensation and scheduling, was voted down because it failed to address "ongoing pilot attraction and retention issues," Carin had said.

WestJet Encore operates a network of regional flights that serve the mainline WestJet Airlines.

WestJet, which is owned by Onex Corp, has been competing with rival Air Canada to meet the demands of Canadian pilots to narrow the earnings gap with higher-paid aviators in the United States.

Earlier this month, the company also reached a tentative agreement with the union representing its maintenance engineers to avert work stoppage.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)