Air Canada strengthens its cold chain capabilities
Air Canada recently announced the start of a $ 16 million project to expand and improve Air Canada Cargo’s cold chain handling capabilities for shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables at its cargo facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The project is part of Air Canada’s strategy to further develop its freight division, which also includes the acquisition of cargo planes, the launch of dedicated cargo routes and an expansion in e-commerce.
“This is another important step for Air Canada Cargo as we continue to grow our business and invest in our facilities to better serve our customers. Our new temperature-controlled facility, which will be the only of its kind for a Canadian airline, represents a significant addition to Air Canada’s on-site capabilities at Toronto Pearson and to Canadian cold chain logistics. It will also give Air Canada Cargo a strategic advantage at our primary hub, which handles over 60 percent 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. -President, freight, at Air Canada.
When complete, the modernized facility will include over 30,000 square feet of temperature-controlled areas and an expanded chiller to fully meet the demands of cold chain shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables.
The extended chiller will accommodate more unit loading devices (ULDs) and bulk shipments with COL (+ 2 ° C to + 8 ° C) and CRT (+ 15 ° C to + 25 ° C) temperature requirements ), will provide an additional rack and an improved dedicated area for the active temperature control units. These upgrades are the first step in a multi-year investment plan for the facility and are part of several infrastructure investment projects planned for Air Canada Cargo.
The project also includes the installation of energy efficient equipment, including temperature controllers that will continuously monitor the conditions inside the facility and regulate the temperature only as needed, resulting in reduced energy consumption. In addition, high speed roll up doors will be installed to minimize energy loss when accessing the cooler to store or retrieve goods. LED lights will be installed throughout the facility, further reducing energy consumption.
Air Canada is CEIV Pharma certified by IATA, which means the airline meets the highest standards for safety, security, compliance and efficiency in the transportation of pharmaceutical products. The improvements undertaken in Toronto were guided, in part, by the specifications for this certification.
As of March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 11,000 all-cargo flights using its passenger wide-body aircraft as well as certain temporarily modified Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s, which have additional cargo space due to the withdrawal. passenger seats. cabin.
As part of its strategic growth plans, Air Canada Cargo has undertaken the conversion of eight Boeing 767-300ERs into dedicated cargo aircraft. The first of the newly reconfigured aircraft will enter service for Air Canada Cargo in the fourth quarter of this year and will initially operate on key routes to provide additional capacity during the busy peak season.
Beginning in early 2022, the first freighter will depart primarily from Toronto and serve Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, with additional cities such as Madrid and Frankfurt, Halifax and St. John’s connecting to the cargo network when the second aircraft is delivered in 2022. The addition of cargo planes to Air Canada’s fleet will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on major air cargo routes, which will facilitate the movement of goods globally. The freighters will enable Air Canada Cargo to increase its presence in the air cargo market and its capabilities to transport goods such as automotive and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, pharmaceuticals, perishables, as well as to meet the growing demand for fast and reliable shipments. of e-commerce products.
“Investing in our cold chain handling capabilities is a critical part of our strategy and expansion plans,” said Matthieu Casey, Senior Director, Cargo Global Sales and Revenue Optimization. “We have made many changes and improvements to our pharmaceutical and perishable handling solutions in recent years, many of which are driven by the CEIV Pharma certification process, but also motivated by working with our customers to understand their specific needs. In 2020, our operational teams also undertook a major preparatory exercise to ensure that we meet the criteria for transporting COVID-19 vaccines. 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, which will serve strong perishable markets such as Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara. . Of course, this will also considerably improve our overall offer to all freight forwarders specializing in cold chain shipments. “