Speaking to Lusa News Agency, WestJet’s Public Relations manager Robert Palmer said: “Portuguese is one of nine languages we hope to employ for our aircraft, as a result of a renewal of our fleet.”
The rapidly-expanding airline is also looking to hire French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese-speakers.
“Some of those countries could in future be served by the company”, Palmer explained, adding that the company “is proactively starting” a search for flight attendants, pilots and other crew members who speak one of the above-mentioned languages.
Speaking to the Vancouver Sun last week, WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky hinted at the airline’s possible expansion of routes with its new aircraft, saying: “We’re not going to disclose, for competitive reasons, where exactly we’re going to fly. But the fact we are hiring people who speak Portuguese, Italian, German, Mandarin and Cantonese gives people a pretty good guess at where we’re going next. We’re going to build that capacity so that, when it’s time to make a decision, it will be an easy trigger to pull.”
According to the Vancouver Sun, WestJet is Canada’s second-largest airline, and has seen a meteoric rise in its 20 years of operation, going from a regional carrier focused on Western Canada with revenues of $37 million in 1996, to a $4-billion operator with 140 aircraft across the country and beyond.
The airline recently purchased four new Boeing 767-300s, which will allow the company to fly to more global destinations.
Last year WestJet operated some 200,000 flights and transported over 20 million passengers to over 100 destinations in Canada, USA, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe (Scotland, England and Ireland).
Canada is also home to one of the largest overseas Portuguese communities, after France, Brazil, Switzerland, the USA and Spain.
Last official figures from 2010 estimated there were over 130,600 Portuguese nationals living in Canada, with close to 430,000 of its citizens having Portuguese ancestry.