Air Canada Plans Five Additional Cargo-Only Routes

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Air Canada has announced that it is planning on starting five additional cargo-only flights from June 1st. The new routes, subject to government approval, will expand the airline’s cargo-only flight schedule out of Montreal.

Air Canada 777
Air Canada wants to launch five more cargo-only long-haul flights out of Montreal. Photo: Air Canada

Air Canada plans five new cargo-only routes

From Montreal, Air Canada wants to add five additional cargo-only destinations:

  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Lima, Peru
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Madrid, Spain
The five new routes out of Montreal. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

In a press release, Tim Strauss, Vice President of Cargo at Air Canada, offered the following statement:

“These nonstop flights originating from Montreal to Europe and South America will enhance our global connectivity, allowing us to continue supporting the global supply chain and our freight forwarding customers”

These flights will add on to the over 1,200 cargo-only flights Air Canada has flown since the end of March. And, as demand continues to rise around the world, expect additional cargo-only operations.

The planes

In the last few months, the airline has been ramping up its cargo-only operations. Air Canada has converted four Boeing 777-300ERs and three Airbus A330-300s for cargo-only flights. Also, some Dash 8 Turboprops flying for Air Canada Jazz have also been converted for cargo-only use. These planes can carry cargo both in the hold and in the passenger cabin. Meanwhile, additional cargo-only flights are only carrying freight in the hold.

Air Canada
The airline has removed seating from some planes to carry cargo. Photo: Air Canada

Additional cargo will continue to move around on Air Canada’s passenger flights. From next month, the flag carrier is ramping up its scheduled passenger operations.

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Supporting global supply chains

Normally, cargo can be transported via air around the world in two different ways. First, there are traditional freighter aircraft. And, beyond that, airlines also carry cargo in the hold. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines quickly trimmed flights leaving dedicated freighter aircraft to fly most of the cargo.

These flights have come in handy for moving vital medical supplies around. Photo: Air Canada

However, this simply was not enough. In response to the rising demand for cargo transportation, airlines started flying cargo-only flights to get cargo where it needs to go.

Air Canada has flown some critical equipment. This includes personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals for healthcare workers, moved consumer goods around, and supporting global supply chains.

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Recently, Air Canada also flew thousands of queen honeybees across Canada to support crop pollination. For Mother’s Day, the airline flew in fresh flowers from Amsterdam and Israel to Canadian merchants. And, essential food supplies have also moved around via Air Canada’s system. This includes chilled beef from Australia bound for supermarkets in Canada and transporting Canadian Atlantic lobster to Asia and Europe.

Using both the hold and the cabin, Air Canada can carry thousands of pounds of additional cargo. Photo: Air Canada

Other benefits of cargo-only flights

This is also a good move for Air Canada. Through this, the airline can earn some much-needed revenue while passenger numbers remain low. In addition, airline pilots and flight attendants can also benefit. Some cargo-only flights require flight attendants in the cabin in case of an emergency. Meanwhile, all flights require pilots. This gives additional Air Canada employees the chance to go to work.

The airline is flying multiple long-haul cargo-only routes. Photo: Air Canada

At the same time, cargo demand could also aid in the resumption of passenger flights to some destinations. Where governments will allow it, Air Canada could start flying passengers where they want to and make money off of transporting the cargo.

Are there other cities that you want Air Canada to launch cargo-only flights to? Let us know in the comments!

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