Halifax airport reports cargo recovery

by Emily Atkins

Air cargo activity increased at Halifax Stanfield in 2021 in comparison to 2020, and recovery is expected to continue as exports remain strong, new carriers enter the market, and the new Halifax Stanfield Air Cargo Logistics Park (ACLP) begins operation.

The new Air Cargo Logistics Park will open later in 2022.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly underscored the importance of air cargo to global supply chains,” said Joyce Carter, president and  CEO of the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA).

“Air cargo has supported our collective fight against Covid-19 through deliveries of PPE and vaccines, maintained local jobs through exports of Nova Scotia products, and aided our communities through efficient transport of e-commerce orders. In every instance, air cargo has played a critical role in moving important goods to and from our region.”

Cargo recovery

In 2021, Halifax Stanfield processed 34,769 tonnes of cargo, up 5.4 percent from 2020. The value of exports in 2021 was $496 million CAD, up 6.3 percent from the previous year.

By contrast, in pre-pandemic 2019, the airport moved 41,129 tonnes of cargo with a value of $621 million.

The airport is still suffering from pandemic-related reductions in passenger traffic. The airport reported losses of $40 million in 2020.

Lobsters in flight

Air cargo was transported by 12 carriers and Nova Scotia seafood, specifically live lobster, continued to be the top export. In 2021, 15,765 tonnes of live lobster, at a value of $293 million, was shipped from Halifax Stanfield to Asian and European markets. Other top exports were medical equipment ($53.2 million) and aerospace-related parts ($41.4 million).

As HIAA looks toward its pandemic recovery, air cargo remains a bright light for future growth and opportunities. Carriers are expanding their cargo operations at Halifax Stanfield, including Air Canada Cargo, which is making Halifax part of its regularly scheduled freighter operations.

Expanded opportunities

“Our long-standing and strong bond with Atlantic Canada and the Nova Scotia community makes the first Canadian expansion of our freighter network not only a natural and obvious fit, but also one that makes us tremendously proud. We are thankful that we can continue to play a pivotal role and indeed increase our support to the robust and growing trade sector in the region,” said Matthieu Casey, managing director, commercial – cargo at Air Canada.

Overall, Halifax Stanfield cargo exports contributed $664 million to the provincial economy.

Cargo capacity will grow when the new ACLP building becomes fully operational later this year. With a total of eight cargo aircraft aprons now available, and cold storage capabilities coming soon, the ACLP will make shipping products by air even easier for Nova Scotia businesses and allow more cargo carriers to operate out of Halifax.

In 2018, the logistics centre received $18 million from the Government of Canada, $5 million from the Government of Nova Scotia and HIAA provided $13 million.