A strike by WestJet Airlines' mechanics, which has resulted in hundreds of cancelled flights across Canada during the long holiday weekend, will persist until an agreement is reached, the union's president informed Reuters on Sunday.

Bret Oestreich, president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, stated that both parties will resume negotiations with a mediator on Sunday. The union represents approximately 680 workers at WestJet, including aircraft maintenance engineers, who initiated the strike on Friday after 97% of its members rejected a pay deal negotiated in May.

"We simply wish to return to the negotiating table," Oestreich remarked. "The strike will remain in effect until we achieve an agreement." He noted that the two parties are apart by an economic gap of about 7% in the first year, which translates to less than $8 million over a roughly four-year contract.

WestJet, owned by Onex Corp, did not provide immediate comments on Sunday. On Saturday, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech accused the union of causing the disruption, stating that union leaders refused to negotiate.

Canada's second-largest carrier announced on Saturday that it had cancelled a total of 407 flights, affecting over 49,000 passengers. WestJet President Diederik Pen disclosed to reporters on Saturday that the airline anticipated flying around 70,000 passengers daily during the long weekend, maintaining minimal service with 30-50 aircraft and operating approximately 150 flights daily.

The strike has caused significant inconvenience to travelers during Canada's long July 1 weekend, with passengers expressing their frustrations on social media about cancelled family holidays or being stranded. Canadian Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan has called on WestJet and the union to resolve their differences and reach an agreement.

In an attempt to prevent the strike, O'Regan had requested the Canada Industrial Relations Board to resolve the contract dispute through binding arbitration. Although the board agreed to arbitration, it clarified that O'Regan's referral did not suspend the right to strike or lockout.

Oestreich emphasized that the union, legally entitled to strike, prefers a negotiated deal over an agreement imposed by an arbitrator. WestJet has proposed a 12.5% wage increase in the first year of the agreement and a compounded wage increase of 23% over the term of the agreement.