Edmonton airport keeps its cool with high volumes

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With more companies making Edmonton International Airport their logistics hub, it is becoming Canada’s leading gateway for biopharma and temperature sensitive cargo.

The airport’s e-commerce, cargo and aviation real estate director, Mammen Tharakan tells Air Cargo Week that a number of Chinese companies are making Edmonton their North American base.

Among others, China’s EHL International Logistics signed an agreement in November last year to make Edmonton airport its North American logistics consolidation centre for goods moving between China and North America.

The types of commodities being transported is evolving, with Tharakan saying: “The resource sector continues to provide a solid foundation of steady air cargo demand and project cargo, however, the growth in e-commerce continues to drive volume growth. Edmonton is leading in the space of biopharma and transport of other perishable and temperature sensitive cargo. Significant investments have been made by EIA to support this high revenue segment.”

The cool chain has also benefitted from Edmonton becoming the first airport in Canada to pursue IATA CEIV Pharma certification.

The airport operator’s contribution to CEIV Pharma will include opening a Fresh Cargo Centre cooler facility to be used jointly by certified cargo carriers.

Tharakan says: “With 460 sq m of refrigerated warehouse space and direct airside access, the facility will be ideally suited for the handling of perishable cargo such as pharma, meat, fruit and produce.”

Construction has also been completed on Runway Developments’ 2,300 sq m logistics centre, a mixed-use cargo facility with leasing opportunities for customs brokers, logistics companies and freight forwarders. Tenants include Flying Fresh Air Freight, Farrow and Livingston International.

Other developments in the area are also likely to have an impact on air cargo.

Tharakan says: “Not actually part of EIA but certain to drive air cargo growth is Amazon’s new Fulfilment Centre being constructed across the highway from EIA.”

Aurora Cannabis are also completing their 27,800 sq m Aurora Polaris facility for value added edible products including baked goods, chocolates, mints and infused beverages.

The cannabis company’s facility is adjacent to Aurora Sky, which produces around 100,000 kilos a year.

Plant Box, which is experienced in providing LED lighting has made Edmonton its North American logistics hub.

The Chinese company plans to focus on small and medium sized commercial operators and academic institutions specialising in indoor plant growth, primarily cannabis.

Tharakan says: “The Plant Box announcement is an example of a firm seeing the value in Edmonton International Airport as a logistical, manufacturing and distribution hub. EIA’s direct circumpolar access to and from Asian markets and prime positioning as a gateway into North America and the Canadian North will allow Plant Box to scale successfully.”

He is confident about the outlook for Canada, saying it is the only G7 country with trade agreements with all other G7 countries as well as with Asia, Europe and North America, simplifying the flow of goods and people.

Tharakan says Alberta’s natural resources, technological capabilities and inter-modal transport makes it an attractive area.

He says: “A lot of firms in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region are scaling for international growth, identifying new market opportunities to expand globally. The last few years have seen Canadian firms focused on increasing their global trade exposure, especially outside of North America.”

Emerging global markets provide great opportunities for Edmonton. Tharakan says: “The growing wealth and middle-class in emerging countries are fuelling demand for the steady, safe and, sustainable food supply that Alberta provides with established agri-food cargo.”