MONTREAL — Air Canada has begun transporting medical supplies and goods on cargo-only flights to Europe to help combat COVID-19.
Operated through its Air Canada Cargo division, the first of these special cargo-only flights departed from Toronto this past week for Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam, all considered vital business centres and connection points for onward cargo shipments. The flights were operated using Boeing 787 aircraft capable of carrying 35 tonnes of cargo, the equivalent of about 80 grand pianos.
Other cargo-only flights are planned for Latin America, South America as well as within Canada.
“Air Canada Cargo has long served as a vital link in global supply chains and with the disruption arising from the COVID-19 pandemic our capabilities are more important than ever,” said Tim Strauss, Vice President of Cargo, Air Canada. “Although we have announced very significant temporary capacity reductions and our passenger flights are largely dedicated to bringing Canadians home, Air Canada’s aircraft and our expertise in handling cargo are valuable assets that we can use to move medical supplies and other essential goods to keep the world economy going.”
Shippers and freight forwarders using the service are charged a flat rate for both directions, and Air Canada Cargo is also introducing a fractional program so shippers who do not require a whole aircraft can book space.
Air Canada Cargo is also now exploring opportunities to offer this service domestically. It is working with various governments to assess the demand and assist in moving relief goods from multiple markets within Canada. This includes using smaller Air Canada Express regional aircraft to operate to less-well served, smaller or remote regions in the country with medical and other emergency supplies in support of local governments.
It’s worth noting that Air Canada does not operate cargo aircraft, instead its Air Canada Cargo division manages and markets excess belly space on the airline’s regular passenger flights for shippers operating worldwide. To facilitate these cargo-only flights, Air Canada Cargo has created five, segment-specific sales teams to focus on the unique needs of the customers at different levels in the supply chain.