Many of you have taken the opportunity to write to me personally in recent times to voice your frustration at our current service levels. This update is both a thank you for bringing issues to my attention and an open apology for some of the less positive experiences. You have highlighted numerous issues including the volume of unanswered calls to our contact centre, the backlog of emails and direct messages through our social channels and the record number of inquiries coming into to our AI chatbot, Juliet.
We are experiencing an incredible and sudden demand surge (after many months of some of the most draconian restrictions anywhere in the world) which has led to unavoidable schedule changes; and a shared challenge among businesses worldwide to rehire and train people quickly enough. The aviation industry is particularly challenged in this space as we had to cut extremely deeply when travel ground to a halt and then had to forecast demand with little more than a three-month lead time. In essence, what took us eight years to achieve between 2003 and 2011 – is being replicated in three months. We are encouraged by vaccination rates and how quickly Canadians are making plans to reconnect with their friends and families, but we are struggling to keep up.
The frustration being felt is shared by our guests and WestJetters alike. This is not who we aspire to be in the eyes of our guests. For an airline that has built a 25-year reputation on the foundation of care, we are working to address the issue.
To get us back on track we have, since May 2021, recalled more than 4,000 WestJetters representing pilots, cabin crew members, contact centre agents and many other departments. These WestJetters require training to be properly prepared to meet the requirements of their role. We anticipate we will be appropriately staffed by the end of August.
The objective of every WestJetter is the same. To get you, our guest, to and from your destination safely, on time, and with a journey memorable for all the right reasons. It’s a source of great anguish to us all that we have not been able to achieve this in the way we would like, 100 per cent of the time.
While we work to get fully staffed, we have implemented several self-serve options that can be used to avoid long queues for the contact centre. More information on these options is available here.
As I titled this post, this is not the WestJet you expect, nor the WestJet you have come to trust over our 25 years. In the face of this devastating pandemic, you have my word we are doing all we can to mitigate the situation. On behalf of our WestJetters who have here all the way through and for those who are just coming back, we appreciate your patience .We are working diligently to regain your trust.