Pilots at WestJet's regional carrier could be going on strike at the beginning of June.

The Air Line Pilots Association said Wednesday afternoon that WestJet Encore pilots have issued a 72-hour strike notice to management and the government.

The union said some progress has been made after two weeks of bargaining following the pilots' rejection of a tentative agreement, but the sides remain apart on key issues.

"After eight months of negotiating, and a failed (tentative agreement), unfortunately management has not recognized the pilots’ needs," Carin Kenny, who heads the union's WestJet Encore contingent, said in a statement. 

"We have expressed to management that we are willing to work with them to further address the issues that clearly remain for our pilots.”

Kenny has said its workers are among the lowest-paid regional pilots in Canada.

WestJet said in a statement Wednesday that the tentative agreement rejected earlier this month would have made them some of the highest paid.

Meanwhile, the airline issued an advance lockout notice to the union, saying a work stoppage could occur as early as 6 p.m. mountain time on Saturday if no deal is reached.

"The decision to issue notice was not made lightly, and we sincerely apologize for the uncertainty this causes for our guests and the Western Canadian regions that rely on WestJet Encore service," Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines, said in the statement. "We are hopeful that guest disruption can still be prevented.” 

The Air Line Pilots Association represents 355 Encore pilots, who in early April approved a strike mandate. 

It said at the time that members voted 97 per cent in favour after contract talks around pay, schedules and career progression came to a "near standstill."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.