Cargo priority on Canada’s W. Coast

Although perched on the Pacific Rim, seemingly within easy reach of Asia's rich export trade, Vancouver and indeed much of the rest of Canada's airports have paid scant attention to air cargo. This has all changed as airport authorities now recognise the value of air cargo. Donald Urquhart reports from Vancouver.

Air Canada Asia-Pacific Gateway Initiative CAC Canada Canadian Airports Council cargo contributor Daniel-Robert Gooch FedEx integrators Kevin Falcon key Vancouver International Airport YVR

It’s tempting to observe that Canada has pretty much ‘missed the boat’ when it comes to air cargo. With an airport system long in the hands of government bureaucrats, a near solitary focus on passengers and the absence of any Canadian cargo-savvy passenger airline, let alone a globally-focused, dedicated cargo carrier, has all conspired to give air cargo a very low profile at the majority of airports across the country.

It is surprising considering the vast country was founded thanks to long distance transportation, albeit largely of the water variety. Sharing the world’s longest border with the world’s largest market, in which road and rail have traditionally been the most efficient means of moving goods back and forth between Canada and the US, has also nothelped the air cargo cause.

Change in the air

But change is, literally, in the air. A divestiture of airports by Canada’s federal government back in the early 1990s, a growing astuteness of changing trade patterns, a gradual shift to a ‘blue skies’ air services policy and closer cooperation between different levels of government and the private sector have all set in motion a new era for air cargo at the country’s airports.