Air Canada invests in cargo operations

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Air Canada has announced the start of a $16-million project to expand and enhance Air Canada Cargo’s cold chain handling capabilities for shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables at its Toronto Pearson International Airport cargo facility.

The project is part of Air Canada’s strategy to further develop its cargo division, which also includes the acquisition of freighter aircraft, the launch of dedicated freighter routes and an expansion into e-commerce.

“Investing in our cold chain handling capabilities is a critical part of our strategy and expansion plans,” says Matthieu Casey, senior director, cargo global sales and revenue optimization.

“A state-of-the-art cold chain facility in Toronto fully aligns with the roll out of our initial freighter network, which will serve strong perishable markets like Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, and later extend to St. John’s and Halifax, Madrid and Frankfurt. Combined with the increased capacity and access to new markets our Boeing 767 freighters will provide, this is an exciting announcement for Canadian cold chain logistics.”

Once completed, the upgraded facility will have over 30,000 square feet of temperature-controlled areas and an expanded cooler to handle cold chain shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables. Air Canada is CEIV Pharma certified by IATA, which signifies that the airline meets the highest standards of safety, security, compliance and efficiency in the transport of pharmaceuticals. The enhancements being undertaken in Toronto were guided, in part, by the specifications related to this certification.

The extended cooler will accommodate more unit load devices (ULD) and loose shipments with COL (+2°C to +8°C) and CRT (+15°C to +25°C) temperature requirements, provide additional racking, and an upgraded dedicated area for active temperature control units.

The project also includes the installation of energy efficient equipment including temperature controllers that will constantly monitor the conditions inside the facility and only regulate the temperature as needed, resulting in reduced energy consumption. As well, rapid roll-up doors will be installed to minimize the energy loss when the cooler is accessed to store or retrieve goods. LED lights will be installed throughout the facility, further reducing energy consumption.

Dedicated freighters

Freight is offloaded in Toronto from a modified Boeing 777.

Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 11,000 all-cargo flights 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.

As part of its strategic growth plans, Air Canada Cargo undertook the conversion of eight Boeing 767-300ER aircraft into dedicated freighters. The first of the newly reconfigured aircraft will enter into service for Air Canada Cargo in Q4 of this year and will initially operate on key routes to provide additional capacity during the busy peak season.

Starting in early 2022, the first freighter will fly primarily out of Toronto and operate to Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, with additional cities like Madrid and Frankfurt, Halifax and St. John’s connecting to the freighter network when the second aircraft is delivered in 2022.

The addition of freighter aircraft to Air Canada’s fleet will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on key air cargo routes, which will facilitate the movement of goods globally. The freighters will allow Air Canada Cargo to increase its presence in the air freight market and its capabilities to transport goods such as 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.