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Air Canada to end freighter venture with Cargojet at year-end

Montreal, QC – Air Canada’s latest venture into the all-cargo business turned out to be short-lived. The airline has announced that its joint operation with Cargojet, which has provided the B767-300F aircraft, will terminate at the end of this year.

The pair inaugurated two weekly all-cargo services to Mexico City and to Bogota and Lima respectively in June of last year and added a transatlantic operation five months later with a weekly freighter flight to Frankfurt.

As air cargo traffic has grown faster than capacity, demand for freighters has intensified markedly this year, leaving forwarders scrambling for lift out of some markets for the peak season.

As recently as late August Cargojet president and CEO Ajay Virmani indicated that 2018 could bring one more international operation – with or without Air Canada, but the larger airline has now closed the door on such an undertaking for the foreseeable future.

The freighter operation has been profitable for Air Canada, says Vito Cerone, director of marketing & sales, Americas.

There have been suggestions that opposition from Air Canada’s pilots may have forced the cargo division to call off the freighter venture. Cerone says that the division does not operate in isolation and has had talks with the pilots, but the decision to end the freighter operation was made on commercial grounds, he stresses.

Air Canada is going to ramp up its passenger flights to Mexico and Peru in the coming year, which will bring a considerable boost to its cargo capacity in these markets, which undermines the case for running freighters there, he says.

With the Latin American link changed, there is no point to retain the Frankfurt freighter.

“The whole thing about the freighter was a network feed. Frankfurt was key for our European feed into South America,” Cerone says.

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