Amazon confirms purchase of former Westjet 767s


First of Westjet’s now-retired 767s heads off to Florida for conversion into a cargo aircraft.

Westjet donated 115 galley carts from its 767 aircraft to a Calgary hospital (photo: Westjet).

Update Jan. 5: This story has been updated to confirm Amazon’s purchase of the former Westjet aircraft.

Amazon has confirmed it bought four former Westjet Boeing 767 aircraft for conversion to freighter aircraft. Amazon bought the four wide-body jets in March but only publicly acknowledged the purchase Tuesday.

The planes are being converted to freighters to bolster Amazon’s fleet of leased and owned aircraft. They are expected to join Amazon’s fleet this year. Amazon is buying another seven used 767-300s from Delta.

“Our goal is to continue delivering for customers across the U.S. in the way that they expect from Amazon, and purchasing our own aircraft is a natural next step toward that goal,” said Sarah Rhoads, Vice President of Amazon Global Air in a news release.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Westjet donated 115 galley carts from its older 767 aircraft to an Alberta hospital. The move signalled an end to the type’s service in Westjet colours.

The carts are intended to be used to hold medical supplies in isolation rooms at a temporary pandemic facility in Calgary. The airline says the carts will help keep areas fully contained and reduce the risk of cross-contamination between different areas in the hospital.

On August 19, the first of Westjet’s 767s left Calgary on its final flight in a passenger configuration. It was bound for Florida and future use as a cargo freighter.

A Boeing 767 departs Calgary International for the final time in Westjet colours August 19, 2020 (video: Alex Praglowski Aviation).

Airline employees packed and shipped the carts to the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary April 23. The hospital added a 100-bed temporary structure to handle confirmed COVID patients. It will only open as an overflow facility.

Westjest says even if the temporary structure is never used, the galley carts are a donation to Alberta Health.

Westjet 767 history

A Boeing 767 in Westjet colours in this undated photo (photo: Westjet).

Westjet bought four used Boeing 767-300 Extended Range with Winglet aircraft from QANTAS in 2014 and has been operating them since 2015 on routes to Europe, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The 767s are now nearing 30 years of service, and with brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the Westjet fleet, the future of the older aircraft is in doubt.

In October, Westjet told Western Aviation News that the four 767s would fly for the summer of 2020 and they would be put on the market to gauge interest from potential buyers. Because of the pandemic, however, they were grounded in March. Westjet suspended its international services and offered a greatly reduced domestic schedule as borders closed and passengers stayed home. The market for planes – new or used – also collapsed.

An animation showing the type of temporary hospital facility set up for the pandemic in Calgary.

While Westjet has not replied to a request for comment on the future of its 767, other airlines have already announced their plans.

Air Canada retired its 767s in both mainline and Rouge colours as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The move by bot airlines marks the end of passenger 767 service in Canada. The model continues on in freighter service with Cargojet.

An Air Canada rouge 767 departs Vancouver International Airport in July 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

American Airlines announced this week it would immediately retire its 17 Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. The planes had already been grounded by the pandemic and were slated for decommissioning by the end of the year.

But Thursday, AA said the planes, along with its fleet of Airbus A330-300, Boeing 757-200, Embraer E190, and Bombardier CRJ 200 aircraft will not be returning to the skies.