WestJet is the latest airline to use its aircraft for cargo-only operations. The company put out a press release recently stating that the first two cargo-only charters would begin today. These flights are using the airline’s brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and take supplies from Ireland to the United States via Toronto, Canada.
The Dreamliners departed on Friday from Calgary (YYC) for Dublin. Today, the two aircraft began the airline’s first two cargo charters, carrying medical supplies from Dublin (DUB) to Atlanta (ATL) via Toronto (YYZ).
From Dublin to Toronto the two flights, operated by 787-9 aircraft, had the flight numbers WS9513 and WS9517. The flights are continuing on to Atlanta, one having departed Toronto at 10:27 and the other departing 90 minutes later at 12:00pm. All times are local (Eastern Daylight Time).
Shipping essential products
Amid the global decrease in passenger flights due to travel restrictions, cargo capacity around the world has also dropped. This is because a great deal of cargo would have been transported in the belly of aircraft carrying passengers. As a result, airlines are doing what they can to cover this shortfall. This is what WestJet had to say on the matter:
“As the COVID-19 crisis has worsened and global supply lines have been cutoff due to the closing of borders and less international flying, WestJet Cargo has been working closely with clients to ensure support of shipping essential products continues.” -WestJet Press Release
The airline will offer increased cargo capacity across its fleet to support the supply chain in the following two ways:
- Domestic cargo network: Various cargo options are available through its scheduled domestic network.
- Charters: Full aircraft are available for cargo charters – including a Boeing 737, 787 or a Q400.
WestJet’s 787-9s are a relatively new addition to the carrier’s fleet. With the first of such aircraft arriving in January of 2019, the airline has a total of five Dreamliners.
The airline was supposed to launch new passenger services to Paris and Rome this spring but unfortunately, these operations are on hold until the current global crisis eases.
While a handful of aircraft are reconfiguring their main passenger cabins and removing seats to accommodate more cargo, these WestJet flights will only utilize the 787-9’s cargo hold to transport supplies. An airline spokesperson tells us that there will not be any passengers in the main cabin on these charter flights.
Other airlines including Air Canada and Lufthansa have removed passenger seating on some of their aircraft to accommodate more cargo. For fellow-Canadian carrier Air Canada, this was first completed with several Boeing 777-300ER jets. However, the most recent development saw the flag carrier’s regional partner, Jazz, remove seating in one of its smaller Dash 8 turboprops.
Where do you think WestJet’s Dreamliners will fly next for cargo operations? Let us know in the comments.