Air Canada’s pivot to a cargo carrier during the pandemic would appear to have had a lasting effect on the airline. When passenger service essentially ground to a halt in 2020, the airline took the seats out of Boeing 777s and turned them into temporary freighters. They also retired their entire fleet of Boeing 767s for permanent conversion to cargo aircraft. The result was a huge boost in cargo revenue that really helped blunt the impact of the passenger business collapse. “The newfound importance of cargo to Air Canada’s bottom line is reflected in the fact that cargo represented 23% of total revenue last year compared to 3.75% in 2019,” the publication Freightwaves reported.
According Freightwaves, now that it’s had a taste of the money it can make in the cargo business, it wants more of it. It will soon have eight 767s converted to cargo and it’s hired more executives to guide the growth, which is also targeting the perishables market. “Air Canada also started a CA$16 million ($12.6 million) project to expand and enhance its cold-storage capabilities for pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables at its Toronto Pearson International Airport cargo facility,” Freightwaves reported