Seafood exports were up 21 per cent at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in the first half of the year fuelled by an increase in lobsters moved to Asia.
However, this was the bright spot as volumes at the Canadian East coast airport to the end of June fell by about three per cent on the same period last year.
The airport is facing challenges as says imports are soft due to the low Canadian dollar, but that is in turn a plus for the airport’s exports, which are more competitive for that reason.
Around 2/3 of cargo is flown into Halifax via freighters by Cargojet, FedEx, Korean Air and, as of 20 July, Qatar Airways Cargo with the rest on bellyhold, with much of this Nova Scotian seafood.
Cargojet runs one flight a week from Halifax to Cologne Bonn, Korean one flight a week to Anchorage and then on to Incheon, and Qatar once a week to Zaragoza and on to Doha.
Halifax says all these connections beyond Incheon and Doha to various Asian destinations are key parts of the solution to meeting demand for Nova Scotian seafood exports.
Seafood is by far Halifax’s biggest export (representing 33 per cent of all cargo in 2015), while other commodities include aircraft parts, surveying, hydrographic, and oceanographic instruments, navigational instruments and appliances.
The airport says given its ties to the ocean, much of this information will not be a surprise and the aircraft parts may be and firms include Composites Atlantic supplying both Airbus and Boeing from Lunenburg.
Halifax primarily operates cargo services as a benefit to the economy of Nova Scotia and says cargo in the bellies can contribute to the profitability of an air service carrier, but notes it is not the deciding factor.
The Nova Scotian gateway is looking to grow cargo and observes lobster exports to Asia, in particular China, have increased by 450 per cent over the past five years.
But at this time, as its passenger market is too small for direct passenger service it says freighters are the answer, with carriers like Cargojet, Korean and Qatar responding accordingly, but it is looking to add to its route network.
Halifax plans on developing cargo infrastructure so it can expand its cargo business and says success has increased demand for widebody apron space so it is actively working on both short and long term solutions to address that issue.