Air Canada Expands Refrigeration Capacity at Toronto’s Freight Hub

Air Canada on Friday announced a $ 16 million investment to expand and improve cold storage capacity for pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishable goods at its cargo center at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The project is part of the airline’s strategy to further develop its cargo division, which includes adding a cargo fleet, launching dedicated cargo routes and expanding into e-commerce.

The modernized facility, expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, will include more than 30,000 square feet of temperature-controlled areas and an expanded cooler to maintain the integrity of perishables.

The upgrades are the first step in a multi-year investment plan for the facility and are part of several planned infrastructure investment projects for Air Canada Cargo, according to the airline.

Improved cold chain logistics capabilities “will give Air Canada Cargo a strategic advantage in our main hub, which handles over 60% of all our traffic, and support the launch of the routes that will be served by our new cargo aircraft” , said Jason Berry. , vice president of freight, in a statement.

Israel Aircraft Industries is in the process of converting eight Air Canada 767-300 (Boeing) passenger planes to pure cargo aircraft. The first newly reconfigured aircraft is expected to enter service by the end of the year, a slight deviation from the original plan to launch commercial flights in October. The aircraft will initially operate on key routes to support high season shipping.

From early 2022, the first freighter will fly primarily from Toronto to Miami; Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; and Guadalajara – places that export large quantities of fresh fruit, flowers and fish that require refrigeration. As previously announced, other cities such as Madrid, Frankfurt, Germany and St. John’s, Canada – a major source of lobster exports – will benefit from a cargo link when the second aircraft is delivered next year.

Executives at Air Canada (OTC US: AC) doubled freight when it became one of the top revenue producers during the pandemic. Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 11,000 all-cargo flights using its wide-bodied passenger jets as well as seven Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s with seats removed to increase space for passengers. lighter loads. The rapid focus on freight when passenger travel was wiped out by COVID and airplanes led to a significant increase in freight revenue and helped solidify results when there was little other revenue. Air Canada achieved record second quarter freight revenues of $ 274 million.

The addition of cargo planes will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on major air cargo routes, rather than relying exclusively on passenger planes that may not have enough space or frequency on some. flights. Freighters also allow Air Canada to support more industries by being able to transport auto and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, temperature-controlled products, and e-commerce packages that require speed.

Additional cold storage space in Toronto will accommodate more air cargo containers and bulk shipments that can be stored between 35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or between 59 degrees and room temperature, with shelving and an area dedicated to active temperature control units.

The project also includes the installation of energy efficient equipment, such as thermostats that automatically maintain temperatures and reduce energy consumption, and high speed roll up doors that minimize energy loss when accessing the cooler. to store or retrieve goods. LED lights will be installed throughout the facility.

The new cold chain handling capabilities will help Air Canada, which is certified by the International Air Transport Association to meet the highest standards of safety, security and compliance in pharmaceutical handling, move more COVID-19 vaccines.

“Investing in our cold chain handling capabilities is a critical part of our strategy and expansion plans,” said Matthieu Casey, senior director of global freight sales and revenue optimization. “We have made many changes and improvements to our pharmaceutical and perishable handling solutions in recent years. … A state-of-the-art cold chain facility in Toronto is the next logical step and fully aligns with the deployment of our initial freight network.

Click here for more FreightWaves / American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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