Air Canada exits freighter market

AIR CANADA is putting its freighter ambitions back on the shelf. In June, the airline will end its MD-11F operation across the Atlantic, after a four-year run. Over the past 18 months, the airline has already moved away from the transpacific maindeck market, returning first one, then the second MD-11F it had deployed on the Shanghai-Toronto sector, writes Ian Putzger.

Air Canada’s remaining freighter has been flying on the Frankfurt-Toronto route, with one flight routed via Halifax and Vitoria, moving fish and seafood to the Spanish city, which now boasts Europe’s second-largest perishables centre.

According to Air Canada, the rapid surge in fuel costs was the main reason for the decision.

“The freighter has not been doing that badly,” insisted Gerry Simpson, director of cargo marketing and business development. “It was the fuel price and the degree of commitment required for an ongoing ACMI operation, that caused us to decide that we are not going to continue with the freighter.”

Within a week of having reached the level that put the carrier’s fuel surcharge to 95 cents per kilo, the fuel price index soared higher to a level that would suggest fuel surcharges go up two notches further, Simpson said.

“When we started the freighter in 2004, oil was at about US$1.40-1.45 for a gallon of kerosene. Now it’s close to $3.20. From January the market for kerosene has gone up well over 60 cents,” he said.

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