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WestJet to expand cargo presence

By Hpanchal on May 4, 2012

Calgary-based passenger carrier WestJet has been flying cargo all over Canada since the carrier got off the ground in 1996 with a handful of Boeing 737s, but recently officials started working to expand Westjet’s freight presence beyond the 21 domestic locations it currently serves.

According to Darcy McCrimmon, Westjet’s manager of business development, the carrier will start flying freight to and from a few locations in the U.S. — possibly Miami and Los Angeles —  on July 1, with routings out of Mexico scheduled for the third quarter. Officials have already started accepting cargo from the Dominican Republic.

This is all part of Westjet’s slow ramp-up of cargo activities. The carrier entered a partnership with Exp-Air, a Canadian sales company, in January 2010. Now, a new cargo website, www.westjetcargo.com, will no doubt contribute to boosting revenues in the future, just as the carrier’s recently announced low-cost regional airline, which will be launched in the second half of 2013, should boost profitability on the passenger side. The carrier finished the first quarter of 2012 with CAN$68.3 million in net earnings — a sharp rise from last year’s CAN$48.2 million first-quarter number — and celebrated its 28th consecutive quarter of profitability. Westjet will receive its second B737-700 delivery of 2011 in June.

“We realize that as we grow, we can extend our ancillary revenue by putting cargo on the aircraft,” McCrimmons said. “Because we’re a narrow-body aircraft company, there’s limited space we can have; however, there is available space.

“We are looking at and are currently having talks with other countries, which would allow us to carry cargo into those places,” he continued. “Obviously, the USA has very tight guidelines around the TSA that we need to meet, and we want to ensure that we use the model security programs that the USA has, so that we can carry cargo into and out of the United States. That’s something we want to make sure we get right."

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