The onset of COVID-19 dramatically impacted global supply chains around the world causing critical shortages of supplies needed in the fight against the global pandemic. In mid-March, Air Canada began using aircraft which would otherwise be parked to begin operating cargo-only flights to transport time-sensitive shipments, including urgent medical supplies and goods to support the global economy.
The following month, Air Canada began transforming widebody aircraft to allow for cargo to be transported in their cabins, effectively doubling the cargo capacity of each aircraft, expediting the delivery of even more critical supplies.
The airline’s cargo-only flights which may not meet accessibility guidelines have been a success and on October 24, 2020, Air Canada completed a network milestone of its 3000th scheduled all-cargo flight. Flight AC7214 took off from Montréal carrying almost 22,000 kilograms of freight to Amsterdam, which included fresh flowers and herbs from Bogotá in the newly transformed cabin and asparagus from Lima in the cargo hold. An Airbus A330, Fin 941, operated the rotation, using its newly reconfigured cargo cabin upper deck based on updated Transport Canada regulations.
“Air Canada’s cargo-only flights continue to expand their global reach despite the complexities involved, helping us meet the anticipated demand for critical supplies quickly and safely,” said Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Air Canada.
She added, “Since March, we acted nimbly, using our entrepreneurial mindset and are adding new destinations to carry a wider range of products. Cargo-only flights are a success of which our employees can all be proud and as we continue to contribute valuable revenue during these challenging times for commercial airlines.”
Cargo-only flights are also setting records with the amount of freight they carry. One of our heaviest flights aboard a reconfigured Boeing 777 carried nearly 60,000 kilograms in total from Shanghai to Tokyo, including shipments of vitamins and disposable gowns.
Through its cargo division, Air Canada transports freight around the world on scheduled cargo-only flights on seven widebody aircraft, including Boeing 777 and A333 converted for transporting freight in the cabin, and on its regular passenger scheduled flights.