First Air Canada Cargo freighter lands in Vancouver

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by Emily Atkins

Air Canada’s first dedicated Boeing 767-300ER freighter aircraft made its first flight on December 9, 2021.

Loading cargo plane
The first flight – from Toronto to Vancouver – was expedited to help serve the flood-devastated Lower Mainland.

The freighter flew from Toronto to Vancouver carrying a full load of cargo. Originally scheduled to first fly to Frankfurt, Air Canada Cargo redeployed the aircraft early to provide capacity where needed.

Our first freighter is being deployed earlier than initially planned in order to provide additional cargo capacity needed into and out of Vancouver to meet ongoing demand as a result of the flooding that disrupted British Columbia’s transportation network,” said Jason Berry, Air Canada’s vice-president, cargo.

“The freighter is planned to operate 12 trips between our Toronto and Vancouver cargo hubs. Our teams have also worked extremely hard over the last several days to get our freighter into service early to aid in the transport of goods to Vancouver.”

Before this flight, Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo had boosted cargo capacity by 586 tonnes into Vancouver from Toronto, Montreal and Calgary in November to allow for the transport of more critical supplies to and from British Columbia.

Growth strategy

The first freighter aircraft is currently planned to operate between Toronto and Frankfurt for the remainder of 2021, in addition to the flights to Vancouver. In 2022, primarily out of Toronto, it will also serve Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara. Additional airports, including Madrid, Halifax and St. John’s are planned when the second aircraft is delivered in the first half of 2022.

Watch a time lapse video of the freighter conversion.

The Boeing 767-300ER freighters will allow Air Canada Cargo to offer five different main deck configurations, increasing the overall cargo capacity of each aircraft to nearly 58 tonnes or 438 cubic metres, with approximately 75 percent of this capacity on the main deck.

close up of cargo locks on floor of aircraft
Air Canada’s new freighter will fly between Toronto and Frankfurt for the rest of 2021.

Air Canada Cargo says the new planes will increase capacity automotive and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, pharmaceuticals, perishables, as well as handling the growing demand for fast, reliable shipment of e-commerce goods.

Given the immediate demand for cargo capacity, the first freighter entered service without its final livery. At a later date, it will be painted in an Air Canada Cargo variation of the Air Canada livery introduced in 2017.

Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 13,000 all-cargo flights globally using its wide-body passenger aircraft as well as certain temporarily modified Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft, which have additional available cargo space due to the removal of seats from the passenger cabin.