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Destination growth

Air Canada is making the most of rapid growth in the number of passenger destinations it serves - and new dedicated freighter services are completing the picture, writes Helen Massy-Beresford

Air Canada, like many airlines, saw a slow start to the year when it comes to cargo, says Lise-Marie Turpin, Vice-President of Air Canada Cargo since 2012. “The beginning of the year, like for everyone, was a bit soft. It was a bit of a disappointing first half of the year – I think that’s also what we saw in the industry in general. But there has been an uptick and as of the month of June we’re quite happy with how traffic is coming along,” Turpin says.


Part of that uptick is due to Air Canada increasing its passenger capacity substantially, Turpin adds. 


The airline has added many new routes in 2016, including serving Casablanca in Morocco from Montreal as well as a year-round direct service between Montreal and Lyon in France and a daily direct service from Vancouver to Brisbane in Australia. 


“Our capacity might be growing at a slightly faster rate than some other carriers on certain lanes, so that gives us a little bit of an extra bounce – but I think in general the industry is bouncing back. There are some signs of improvement in market conditions and exports in general and I think we’re relatively hopeful that it will continue until the end of the year,” Turpin says. 


On the freighter side, the airline has launched a freighter service out of Toronto into Bogota and Lima with a stop in Atlanta and also a Mexico freighter too. “Right now we’re just building those and fine tuning our operation before we start adding on, but we are looking at increasing frequency on some of the routes that we already operate with the freighter,” Turpin says.


The airline wet leases Boeing 767-300 aircraft from Cargojet Airways for those routes and so far, demand for the service is good. “It’s gone very well. On the northbound routes out of Lima and Bogota, these are perishable markets so we’re dependent on the growing seasons,” Turpin explains. Going south, the cargo is more varied – anything from live animals to pharmaceuticals. 


The perishables market is an important one for Air Canada Cargo thanks to domestic food production on both the east and west coasts of the country – fish and seafood from both coasts as well as products including ferns, berries and mushrooms from the west coast of the country. 


“This is something in which we have a great deal of expertise because of the nature of our business and our home market,” Turpin says. “It’s part of our DNA to have to deal with these products and if you add into that the wide swing in temperatures – we have to deal with extreme heat in the summer time and quite cold winters – we’re used to operating in challenging conditions.”


Managing tarmac time is a key concern in that context and to that end, the airline has worked with a local software partner to develop a proprietary software system that allows real-time dispatching from warehouse to aircraft and from aircraft to warehouse in Air Canada Cargo’s Canada hubs. 


iLynx, a mobile scanning solution, means employees can scan a ULD or an Air Waybill in the warehouse from their mobile devices. >>

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