WestJet Cargo enriches the French cuisine…

… and delights travelers and cargo customers alike. The background to this is that the Canadian airline is flying to Paris again, after a major interruption to the route. The flights, operated daily, take off from Puerto Vallarta (PVR) in Mexico, to Calgary (YYC). There, the freight consignments are transferred to the carrier’s B787 passenger fleet bound for Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). In this way, plenty of agricultural products grown and harvested in Mexico cross the Atlantic on board of the Canadian carrier’s fleet.
CargoForwarder Global (CFG) spoke with Kirsten de Bruijn (KdB), Executive VP Cargo, about this new air service which pleases French supermarkets, consumers, and restaurant operators.

WestJet Cargo’s Kirsten de Bruijn is one of the most dynamic and innovative managers in the global air cargo industry – courtesy: WestJet Cargo

CFG: Kirsten, in a joint statement it is said that WestJet Cargo and your cooperation partner, sales agent ECS, are determined to integrate sustainable practices into the CDG services, reflecting the companies’ dedication to environmental responsibility. Could you elaborate on this, please?

KdB: By closely collaborating, both companies—ECS Group and WestJet Cargo—demonstrate their shared dedication to environmental stewardship.

The Paris route, which supports the transportation of Mexican perishables, promotes sustainable agricultural practices, and strengthens global food supply chains, benefiting local farmers. By fostering strong relationships with suppliers and logistics providers, the partnership enables effective communication and collaboration to implement eco-friendly initiatives across the supply chain. This said, the following key aspects are worth noting:

  • Temperature-controlled transportation
  • Use of locally sourced perishables, produced in the western parts of Mexico.
  • Structured transportation schedule on this route, of 5-7 days a week.

ECS Group’s technological innovations such as the Quantum e-quotation system and Apollo business intelligence platform, contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of cargo operations. These tools optimize route planning and reduce fuel consumption, thereby supporting sustainable transport.

Additionally, WestJet Cargo may engage in community projects that promote sustainability, such as tree planting, clean-up campaigns, and support for local environmental initiatives.

A broad spectrum of services

CFG: WestJet Cargo continues to remain focused on providing high-quality, offering efficient and technologically advanced cargo services to meet the dynamic needs of its global customers. Kindly illustrate these keywords to make them more tangible.

KdB: My pleasure. High Quality/Reliable Service translates into prioritized on-time performance and customer satisfaction, providing a dependable service for our customers.
Diverse Cargo Options: By offering a wide range of cargo options including general cargo, perishables, and mail, the airline can cater to various customer needs and industries.
Customer-Centric Approach: WestJet Cargo emphasizes listening to customers and understanding their needs to offer tailored services and solutions that align with their expectations and demands.
Strong Partnerships: Collaborations with experienced logistics partners such as ECS Group, help enhance the overall quality of cargo operations through shared expertise and resources.

Efficient, Optimized Load Factors: By working to optimize load factors on flights, WestJet Cargo maximizes the efficiency of cargo transport and reduces wasted capacity.
Strategic Hub Network: Utilizing Paris CDG as a central hub and expanding operations through key routes, optimizes cargo transport and streamlines connections across Europe and beyond.
Continuous Operation: Year-round operations on key routes provide stability and consistency, allowing the airline to nurture stronger relationships with customers and partners.
Close Supplier Relationships: Maintaining respectful relationships with suppliers and logistics partners ensures smooth operations and minimizes delays or disruptions in the supply chain.

Technologically Advanced Digital Booking Platform: WestJet Cargo’s use of a digital booking platform streamlines the reservation process and provides customers with a convenient, user-friendly interface.
Advanced Tools from ECS Group: The use of ECS Group’s Quantum e-quotation system and Apollo business intelligence platform allow for efficient management of cargo capacities and market analysis.
Data-Driven Insights: Leveraging data analytics tools enables WestJet Cargo to make informed decisions about cargo operations, optimizing efficiency and performance.
Innovative Solutions: By adopting new technologies and staying current with industry trends, WestJet Cargo can continuously improve its services and better meet the evolving needs of its global customers.
Collaboration on a proof-of-concept initiative with WireMind to enhance capacity forecasting using AI-driven solutions, aiming to optimize cargo sales and operations for the WestJet passenger bellies.
Booking platform Cargo One – to enhance booking process for freight forwarders.

Cargo and passenger services differ significantly

Avocados harvested today in Jalisco, West-Mexico, are available at French markets three of four days after – Source: Informador.MEX 

CFG: WestJet inked codeshare agreements with multiple airlines. Does this include closer cooperation in freight matters as well or is cargo a different animal?

KdB: Cargo is a different animal. WestJet’s codeshare agreements with airlines such as AF-KLM, Delta, and Emirates, are primarily centered on passenger operations and may not necessarily include closer cooperation in freight matters. Although these codeshare agreements might facilitate dialogue and communication between the airlines on various operational aspects, passenger and cargo partnerships are typically handled separately.

The requirements for cargo and passenger services differ significantly. Cargo services involve specialized handling, storage, and transport conditions to safely move goods, while passenger services focus more on providing comfort and convenience for travelers. Additionally, cargo and passenger services cater to different markets and have distinct goals and strategies.
Codeshare agreements can lead to network expansion, which may indirectly benefit cargo operations by providing access to new markets. However, cargo partnerships usually involve their own interline agreements that are separate from those in passenger operations.

CFG: WestJet serves Gatwick, Heathrow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Rome, Barcelona, and Paris CDG. Which of these routes are operated seasonally, which year-round, and are there any other European destinations on your wish list?

KdB: Seasonal routes are Gatwick, Edinburgh, Dublin, Rome, and Barcelona. Paris and Heathrow are year-round. Paris opens more sales and connections for all of EU, whereas Heathrow primarily feeds UK and Ireland. Both serve as great interline hub connections.
While we are currently not able to share specific details about potential new European destinations, we are always evaluating market opportunities and exploring potential expansions that align with cargo goals.

CFG: Thank you for these explanations and good luck with your PVR – YYC – CDG services.

WestJet lands in the land of volcanoes
Further to this, on 15MAY24 WestJet launched flights between Calgary and Reykjavik, Iceland. They are bolstered by an interline agreement with Icelandair. This enables passengers to travel across Icelandair and WestJet’s network via one boarding pass, with the convenience of a single check-in and baggage tagged and checked to their final destination.

“Iceland offers one of the most geologically diverse and breathtaking landscapes in the world and we are thrilled to provide convenient direct access to Reykjavik as we continue to expand our European network,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Group, Executive Vice-President, Chief People, Corporate and Sustainability Officer.

“This new route is about more than just the connection between two cities, it’s about recognizing a mutual commitment to global connectivity. In advancing that commitment, every step, every new destination, counts towards solidifying YYC’s role and status as a global hub,” commented Chris Dinsdale, President and CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority.

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