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Canada's WestJet Airlines to cancel flights as pilot strike looms

May 18 (Reuters) - Onex Corp's (ONEX.TO) WestJet Group said on Thursday it will cancel flights ahead of a possible pilots' strike, as a pilot union and the airline are yet to come to an agreement over a new contract.

The pilots gave a notice on Monday that could allow for strike action as early as 0300 MT on May 19, raising the possibility of travel disruptions during the upcoming Victoria Day holiday weekend.

"We remain at a critical impasse with the union and have been left with no choice but to begin taking the painful steps of preparing for the reality of a work stoppage," CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said in a statement.

Calgary-based WestJet said it will park the majority of its 737 and 787 fleet, but WestJet Encore, Link and some 737 flights will continue to operate.

"Our fleet is already fully deployed so we have minimal ability to increase capacity further; however, our staff are aware of the situation and prepared to assist", Air Canada (AC.TO) said while responding on the situation.

Air Canada added it would try to accommodate passengers looking for new bookings with the remaining available seats when possible.

North American pilots are pressing for higher salaries and better scheduling after aviators made big gains in a recent deal with Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) that delivers a 34% pay increase over four years. In Canada, pilots want better scheduling and to close the gap between their pay and higher amounts earned by their U.S. counterparts.

This article originally appeared on Reuters

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