Air Canada operates 4,000th all-cargo flight from Toronto to Lima
With the flight of AC 7227 from Toronto to Lima, Air Canada has now operated 4,000 all-cargo flights since launching into the cargo-only-flight business in March 2020. The first cargo-only flight was flown on March 22 to Frankfurt, Germany, followed by London and Amsterdam, using the Boeing 787 aircraft. By successfully establishing a dedicated, cargo-only operation, Air Canada Cargo is now well-positioned to play a key role in carrying Covid-19 vaccine shipments for Canadians and explore opportunities in the global air cargo market.
"Air Canada Cargo has emerged as an outstanding performer during the Covid-19 crisis and was a key player in transporting medical equipment including PPE to Canada early on. It is impressive that the cargo team re-engineered its business model and network for cargo-only flights in March and has now successfully operated 4,000 such flights onboard both mainline widebody aircraft, as well as seven transformed widebody aircraft enabling cargo transport in the cabin. These initiatives have helped solidify our ability to meet heightened demand for air cargo capacity globally and have contributed to the growth of Air Canada's successful cargo division at an unprecedented pace," said Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president and chief commercial officer. She added, "This ability to quickly pivot exemplifies Air Canada's commitment to innovate and seize opportunities."
The 4,000th flight from Toronto to Lima carried an assortment of freight from around the world including pharmaceuticals from Delhi, Hyderabad and Brussels,medical equipment from Istanbul and Frankfurt, water purifying equipment from Philadelphia and vehicle parts from Shanghai. The commodities which will come on the 6.30 am (5 pm IST) returning flight AC 7228 from Lima (LIM) include mangoes to Frankfurt, asparagus to Madrid, London and Paris, turmeric and facemasks to Toronto, textiles to Edmonton and Hong Kong and ceramic tiles to Tel Aviv. The perishables will be loaded in the cabin. Since the start of the pandemic, Air Canada Cargo has transported a wide range of goods on its cargo-only flights, including PPE for frontline healthcare workers.
Rene Rojas, general manager, Cargo Sales and Services – South America/Mexico and Caribbean, emphasising on the significance of their activity from Latin America/South America, made possible by their cargo-only network said, “Cargo-only flights are successful when there is a demand both ways, I am very happy that the return flight of the 4,000th scheduled cargo-only flight is from Lima. We currently operate about 14 flights per week out of South America – from Bogota, Sao Paulo, Quito, and Lima. The converted A330 and 777-300 aircraft have been ideal for perishables from this region, which typically continue to Asia and Europe and Canada. Our GSAs, operations team in GRU (São Paulo international airport in Brazil) and ground handling partners in South America have remained focused and dedicated to supporting our customers in the region throughout the year.”
In anticipation of the requirement for air cargo capacity to ship and distribute Covid-19 vaccines in Canada and worldwide, the cargo division has been working with its freight forwarding customers specialised in handling pharmaceutical shipments. Its role will be to provide capacity for vaccine shipments through agreements with international freight forwarders, governments or international agencies on scheduled or on-demand, cargo-only flights. As part of these supply chain preparations, Air Canada Cargo has undergone an extensive operational readiness exercise to ensure training, procedures and facilities are updated and reflect current requirements and standards for transporting pharmaceuticals, including achieving IATA's CEIV Pharma certification in July 2020.
Recently, Air Canada successfully concluded a collective agreement amendment with its pilots, represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association to enable Air Canada to competitively operate dedicated cargo aircraft. The airline is now finalising plans to convert several of its owned Boeing 767-300ER aircraft to freighters to fully participate in global cargo commercial opportunities.