“We rely on our own international network and combination of passenger fleet and freighter aircraft to transport air freight shipments.” These are the clear words of John Lloyd, Director Cargo EU, ME, and India, of Air Canada Cargo. In plain words, this means that capacity-sharing models on a regulatory-approved antitrust basis, such as between United Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo, are not an option for his freight division, and are not part of the agenda, the manager told CargoForwarder Global in an exclusive interview.
Put positively, this means: Air Canada Cargo trusts its own strength. All the more so as a fleet of 8 Boeing 767-300P2F freighters is on the way, providing a capacity boost. The first of these
conversions has already been in service since December and has operated various ad hoc rotations between the carrier’s home base, Toronto Pearson, and Frankfurt Rhine-Main. “With very
encouraging results,” Mr. Lloyd summarizes.
Serving Europe and Latin America
Air Canada's B767 freighters can accommodate 57 tons (438 m³) and offer customers temperature-controlled compartments, guaranteeing the product integrity of sensitive shipments such as pharma or perishable commodities.
With the start of the upcoming summer schedule at the end of March, the first freighter will begin operating scheduled flights to FRA and MAD, each three times a week. “We can connect the Iberian market well with Central and South America via our Toronto Pearson Airport gateway,” Mr. Lloyd says, explaining the reason for serving Madrid Barajas Airport.
No trans-pacific operations
Apart from Frankfurt and Madrid, Air Canada Cargo does not intend to serve any other European destinations by freighter in the months ahead; not even London, where the European headquarters of the cargo division is located.
The picture is different in Latin America, where, according to the executive, Mexico City, Lima, and Quito are listed on the flight schedule. In contrast, there are no plans to offer trans-pacific services, he confirms. The same applies for freighter operations on domestic Canadian routes, or cross-border services to/from the USA, where Miami, at most, is an option. “We manage the intra-Canadian distribution of air freight, and also to and from the U.S., through our extensive road feeder network, where we cooperate with many reliable partners,” he states.
Operating freighters is part of a long-term plan
Similarly, over in Europe, an extensive trucking network is available to distribute the goods in a targeted manner, complementing the transatlantic transport of freight by cargo and passenger aircraft.
John Lloyd emphasizes that his company's decision to operate cargo aircraft was not made in response to the corona crisis. “We decided to do this for strategic reasons before the pandemic broke out.”
Air Canada carried 490,000 tons of cargo last year. Most of the shipments flew in the passenger fleet's lower deck compartments, and in the cabins of long-haul aircraft that have been converted to hybrid freighters to carry urgently needed hygienic materials.
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