While not fully recovered to pre-pandemic activity levels, cargo export volumes in 2022 increased by six per cent compared to 2021 at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
“Air cargo activity is steadily growing and global demand for Nova Scotia’s live lobster remains high,” says Leah Batstone, Communications and Marketing Advisor for the Halifax International Airport Authority.
“We’ve seen some of our carriers add more frequent flights this year as the industry starts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, and we are working with all to increase capacity,” says Batstone. “We also have seen increasing interest from cargo carriers who see the opportunities in Halifax. Air Canada Cargo began dedicated freighter operations to several markets in Europe from Halifax last year and has announced the addition of flights from Halifax to Belgium and Switzerland, complementing their existing cargo services to Europe. WestJet Cargo announced it is launching cargo services in Halifax this year, with flights from Halifax to Toronto up to six times a week. These carriers are in addition to the many others operating at Halifax Stanfield, including but not limited to: ASL, Atlas Air, Cargojet, FedEx, and Korean Air Cargo.”
Batstone said it’s too early to know the exact impact of the Air Cargo Logistics Park (ACLP), officially opened in August 2022. “However, prior to the new building opening last August, our five new aircraft parking positions were available for air carriers to use. These five positions complemented our existing three spaces for a total of eight aircraft parking positions. These additional spaces have made a significant difference in being able to accept multiple aircraft at the same time, especially during peak export periods, allowing the product to reach the market quickly.”
Cargojet and First Catch Fisheries Ltd. are the tenants in the new ACLP building. First Catch was established in 2016 and is mainly engaged in the export seafood business.
“The export of lobster is the largest proportion of current exports. At the highest point, we achieved the market share of more than 78 per cent in China when it comes to Canadian lobster, which means at least three of four Canadian lobsters in the Chinese market were shipped direct from us,” states First Catch’s website.
First Catch has built “the first airport live seafood transfer warehouse in the world, covering an area of 29,000 square feet. The space can accommodate two Boeing 747 charter flights for loading, unloading and boarding operations with an average daily volume of more than 200 tons of seafood products.”
Batstone said there continues to be global challenges with aircraft and pilot availability for cargo and passenger air carriers and Halifax Stanfield is not immune.
“However, we are optimistic that as the sector continues to recover, our airport will be well-positioned for growth opportunities. Today, even with aircraft and pilot shortages, regularly scheduled cargo flights filled with Nova Scotia seafood exports continue to depart Halifax Stanfield each week. The additional space for aircraft parking positions, cold storage capabilities, and nearby land available for development means we have plenty of room to grow. We are looking forward to working with our industry partners as we support their recovery and growth and getting more incredible Nova Scotia products to markets around the world.”