WestJet and Virgin cement cargo partnership

Following a decade of absence, Virgin Atlantic will resume air services to Canada. From the upcoming summer flight season onwards, beginning 30MAR25, the UK carrier will add the route London Heathrow – Toronto Pearson to its transatlantic network. Although the decision is mainly based on passenger demand the go-ahead for the daily services has also consequences for the cargo business, including Virgin’s cooperation with WestJet.

Virgin returns to Toronto, deepening its cargo collaboration with WestJet – courtesy Virgin Atlantic Airways

Virgin Atlantic will operate the route with an Airbus A330neo. According to Airbus, this variant can accommodate up to 33 LD3 containers underfloor or 9 pallets plus 5 LD3. But Virgin points out that other aircraft might be deployed on the London – Toronto sector as well, depending on passenger demand. Official travel data show that 1.1 million passengers booked this route in 2023 flying either on board Air Canada jetliners or British Airways long haul aircraft.

New horizons
In addition to the route announcement, Virgin Atlantic and WestJet plan to expand their collaboration enabling transit passengers seamless travel options through their respective hubs Calgary and London Heathrow to beyond destinations. In the case of Virgin these include predominantly the Indian destinations Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, in Africa Cape Town, Johannesburg and Lagos and Dubai in the UAE. Conversely, WestJet offers Virgin clients commuting flights to key domestic Canadian destinations and abundant cross border connections to and from the States. 

Sharing belly capacity
The capacity provided by Virgin Atlantic’s upcoming Toronto flight strengthens the cargo partnership existing between the UK carrier and its Canadian associate, emphasizes WestJet Cargo when asked by CargoForwarder Global. “WS and VS already use each other’s cargo belly network via LHR today. With this closer collaboration we are reviewing more lanes to cooperate i.e. India and Southeast Asia,” reads the statement delivered by WS management.

However, the collaboration does not include a sales agreement enabling WestJet Cargo selling Virgin lower deck capacity actively and vice versa on the YYZ > < LHR sector and beyond.

Deepened WS-AF ties
Up to now, it is a confined partnership based on an interline agreement but with upgradable prospects, explains WestJet management.

Currently, WestJet offers services to seven European destinations. Only three weeks ago, the carrier announced year-round flights between Calgary and Paris CDG, complementing its year-round services on the Calgary-London Heathrow sector.  The Paris flights deepen WestJet’s longstanding codeshare partnership with Air France, including its cargo division.

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