A new specialist freight division at one of Canada’s largest carriers has accepted its first aircraft. WestJet Cargo welcomed the 737-800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) on lease from BBAM, making the Calgary-based firm the first in Canada to operate the type.
The example arrived in Alberta earlier this month (pictured), sporting registration 2-BPDL (c/n 34686). This followed a mammoth ferry flight from China where it had completed conversion by Boeing at an approved MRO facility in Guangzhou.
"The delivery of our first freighter to our home base gives us great confidence in the growth and development of our commercial cargo service and I am eager to see our new dedicated [division] take flight as we begin providing competitive services to cargo customers across Canada," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, WestJet CEO.
The airframe – which is expected to be registered as C-FJWS after it formally joins the airline – will be used for express cargo and e-commerce freight. Data from ch-aviation suggests the 16-year-old narrowbody was delivered factory fresh to German leisure carrier Hapagfly as D-ATUE in March 2006, before being absorbed into TUI Fly, where it remained until spring last year.
All four BCF examples are due to be in service with WestJet before the end of the year, representing a major ramp up in the carrier’s air freight capacity. Each will be powered by a pair of CFM International 56-7B engines.
The Canadian operator said it selected the 737-800 variant based the ease of loading the jet, airport compatibility and its existing pool of experienced pilots on the Boeing narrowbody type.
"BBAM is excited to partner with our long-time customer WestJet as they launch WestJet Cargo. This is our first North American placement of the Boeing 737-800BCF, [and] an important milestone for [our] industry-leading freighter programme." added Steve Zissis, president and chief executive of BBAM.
The delivery forms the latest phase in the development of WestJet Cargo – a subsidiary first announced in June 2021. WestJet itself was launched in 1996 with just three jets and five destinations. Pre-pandemic, it had grown to operate more than 180 aircraft across more than 100 destinations in 23 countries.