CALGARY, CANADA — Canadian full-service airline WestJet is in haste to reactivate over 200 flights cancelled on Friday, having averted a pilot strike that could have disrupted travel plans for the Victoria Day long weekend.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Calgary-based carrier announced a tentative agreement early Friday to stave off the strike. Approximately 1,800 pilots from WestJet and Swoop were ready to walk out on Friday morning following a strike notice issued by ALPA on Monday.

In preparation for a potential strike, WestJet preemptively grounded over 200 flights on Thursday and Friday to prevent leaving aircraft in remote locations without support. Once the tentative agreement was reached, the process of reinstating these flights commenced, as per WestJet's statement.

"The WestJet Group is working diligently to resume operations as swiftly and proficiently as possible, however full restoration of operations will take some time," WestJet stated in a press release.

The cancelled WestJet flights impacted numerous routes within Canada, the U.S., and internationally, whereas flights via the WestJet Encore regional service and Sunwing Airlines, owned by WestJet, were not affected.

On Thursday and Friday, 111 and 107 flights were cancelled respectively, according to tracking service FlightAware, which accounted for 30% of WestJet's scheduled flights each day.

Duncan Dee, former chief operating officer at Air Canada, informed Global News that it may take until the middle of next week before WestJet fully recovers its operations.

He likened the current situation to a large, complex jigsaw puzzle that WestJet must now piece back together. He elaborated that cancelled flights disrupt multiple routes and destinations, leading to a ripple effect of further cancellations.

Despite the challenges, Dee lauded WestJet for their proactive actions which prevented a larger disruption, such as the one experienced by Southwest Airlines last December. The U.S. airline had cancelled close to 17,000 flights during a 10-day period around Christmas, affecting over two million people's travel plans due to a winter storm and an overwhelmed rescheduling system for pilots and flight attendants.

Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc., stated that WestJet's main task is to reimburse impacted customers. Although he acknowledged a dent in WestJet's reputation, he emphasized it could have been far worse had a strike occurred.

WestJet and the union confirmed a membership vote on the agreement will take place in the upcoming days.

Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the WestJet ALPA master executive council, expressed satisfaction with the preliminary agreement, stating that it recognized the value and expertise of the pilots.

Both ALPA and WestJet agree that the contract offers improved job security, increased compensation, and more flexible schedules for a better work-life balance. They also believe that a ratified contract will signify the pilots' commitment to contribute significantly to WestJet's success and growth strategy.