WestJet to enter the freighter market

By Damian Brett

Canada-based airline WestJet will launch dedicated freighter operations following the delivery of a B737-800 converted freighter.

The carrier said that it planned to launch freighter flights in the second quarter of 2022 in response to “the larger-scale needs of Canadian businesses, freight forwarders, shippers and individual customers”.

“Our new dedicated commercial cargo aircraft are a natural evolution of the competitive guest services WestJet has successfully provided over our 25-year history. It will provide cargo customers with the reliable on-time performance and competitive cost advantage synonymous with WestJet,” said Charles Duncan, WestJet, executive vice president, cargo.

Reports suggest that in total the carrier will operate four of the Boeing converted freighters.

The airline already operates B737NG aircraft, meaning it can utilise existing pilots.

“WestJet Cargo will enhance economic benefits through competitive product for shippers as well as new employment opportunities,” Duncan added. “Dedicated, cost efficient and nimble narrow body freighters will make WestJet Cargo a dynamic and strong competitor.”

WestJet is not the only Canadian airline to announce its expansion into freighter operations.

In February, Air Canada announced that it would convert some of its B767 aircraft into freighters to be used on services to the US and Latin America.

The move comes as the air cargo market looks to be returning to pre-pandemic levels, rates remain high and airlines find themselves with unused aircraft due to the covid-related collapse of the passenger market.

Over the last couple of weeks, a hat-trick of other companies have also announced plans to enter the all-cargo market.

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