Exclusive - Cargo Carrier Kelowna Lands at Brussels

The Canadian carrier Kelowna Flightcraft (KF) will commence direct cargo flights between Toronto and Brussels. Apart from this being the first direct freight-only connection to Canada, the company’s aircraft are bound to attract a lot of spotters near the Brussels runways.

One of KF’s DC-10Fs  /  company courtesy
One of KF’s DC-10Fs / company courtesy

Kelowna Flightcraft is currently an exclusive, dedicated air cargo carrier for Purolator Courier Ltd. and the Canada Post. To this purpose KF operates the two largest dedicated freighters in Canada, both DC10-30Fs. Operating 2 full-service facilities in Kelowna, British Columbia and Hamilton, Ontario; Kelowna’s presence as an aircraft maintenance company since 1970 guarantees the airworthiness of the aircraft and drives the high reliability KF is renowned for in Canada.

Going global
At the negotiation tables in Brussels were Bryan Akerstream, Director of Business Development, and Brian Potvin, Cargo Sales & Contracts Manager. We asked Bryan what made KF decide to go global.
This is what he stated:
“We were uncomfortable with the desired changes in the contract structure for the services we currently provide to Purolator and Canada Post and took the decision to look at other opportunities for employing our fleet. Our aircraft are fully owned and although they are more expensive to operate than a newer wide body aircraft, we are still able to employ them, at least initially, at competitive rates. We know that the lifespan of these aircraft is limited, but it is our intention to optimize our equipment, gain a foothold in the market and then transition to newer aircraft once we confirm the viability of the market and better understand the capacity requirements for supporting it. Thanks to our full service facilities and the high experience our aircraft are well maintained and have productive life left in them. It would make no sense to buy a 30 million dollar airplane at this point.”

Why Brussels?
BRU is centrally located and fits in very well in serving as a hub for the European market, but according to Bryan that is not the only reason for coming to Brussels.
“As you know one of the main loads from Canada to Europe is lobster and the Brussels Airport community has established itself as an important distribution hub for live perishables for the EU market. Brussels Airport has been extremely open and helpful and the BRUcargo industry has been very supportive of the program.”
For return loads KF is really looking across Europe. “We’re thinking of pharma out of Belgium, automotive products from Belgium and Germany, fashionware from Italy and perishables form Spain, in combination with general cargo. “
The intention is to fly Toronto-Brussels-Toronto 4 days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Bryan: “We fly here, unload and reload and fly right back maintaining a spare crew in Brussels. Our original intention was to start as from 1 April, when the Purolator contracts will have expired, but we still need some time to install some avionics modification to be able to fly into Europe.

Into Africa
As for other destinations, KF is hoping to open up the African market via Brussels through the set-up of partnerships ‘with companies that serve that market out of Brussels’. “We have no intention to fly beyond Brussels, but we plan to do this through interline agreements.”
Neither is KF interested in the US market, which is considered to be too dominated. On the other hand, South-America is a potential market, says Bryan. “There is a lot of cargo from Europe, Africa and South-America destined for Canada, but we are concentrating on the EU market through Brussels right now. The rest we’ll worry about later.” Johan Leunen, Cargo Marketing Manager Brussels Airport, hopes that the maiden trip will be in early May. No definite decisions have been made as to the choice of GSA and ground handler. The lobsters will be handled by specialised perishable handling company Adelantex.


Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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