DALLAS – WestJet’s (WS) new dedicated cargo subsidiary has celebrated the inauguration of the second of its three 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCFs) in Halifax (YHZ).
A day earlier, WestJet Cargo and the GTA Group celebrated the new service’s launch at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at the carrier’s Toronto (YYZ) hangar. Various representatives from the new division and airline stakeholders attended both events.
WestJet Cargo and GTA’s BCFs will now start operations between six stations, including YHZ, YYZ, YYC, Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and Vancouver (YVR)
A B737-800 BCF has a payload of 23 tons, and with its three dedicated cargo aircraft, the airline can transport over 1500 tons weekly. Their operation will create global connectivity and open trade routes between Canada and the Caribbean, Europe, Japan and the United States.
The airline hopes the launch of the dedicated freighter service ‘will fulfil the large-scale needs of businesses, freight forwarders, shippers and individual customers across North America.’
WestJet had planned to launch all-cargo operations in July 2022. It had received a pair of Boeing 737-800s that had gone through the passenger-to-freighter conversion process. But it subsequently had to park them until Transport Canada had verified the changes to the aircraft, putting Boeing under closer scrutiny after several high-profile incidents and quality control issues.
Sadly, after a ten-month delay and two parked planes, the problems for WestJet do not end there. Most pilots have now voted to strike if a collective bargaining agreement with WS is not reached by May 16. This is because the airline wants to reduce costs and thus impact the pilots’ salaries.
ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association International) expects that if WestJet fails to meet its members, it could lose up to 30 experienced pilots monthly. This would mean they would have left around 20% of their more experienced pilots by next year. This also applies to cargo crews.
Speaking at the first event in Toronto, Kirsten de Bruijn, Executive Vice-President Cargo, who joined WestJet last May from Qatar Airways (QR), said, “We are thrilled to be celebrating this long-awaited milestone in Toronto, a core hub for WestJet Cargo and home of the GTA Group,”
“As Canada’s largest global hub, Toronto is a vital destination for our dedicated freighter operation that will enable WestJet Cargo to plug into a vast network of cargo entering the country and allow us to seamlessly execute the distribution of this cargo to its final destination across Canada.”
Featured Image: WestJet Cargo and GTA Group representatives at the Toronto ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo: WestJet.