Edmonton International Airport is now a central hub along a new air shipping route and it’s the first location in Canada to offer a scheduled cargo shipping to mainland China.
The plane makes the route and back three times a week and the plane is in Edmonton six times a week, says Heather Hamilton, director of communications with the Edmonton International Airport.
Along with an important shipping destination, Hamilton says the airport can serve as a fuel stop. After Edmonton the aircraft travels to Dallas Fort Worth Airport, and from there into South America. “So we’re creating a new air trade route,” said Hamilton.
“When you look at our trade partners our number one trade partner is the US and the second is China. We’ve actually become the center of a wheel,” she added.
Hamilton says it has been calculated the provincial gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to reach $31 million annually. This will come from industry factors including shipping, trading and manufacturing jobs.
“All of the businesses importing from China can import straight to Edmonton,” said Hamilton. She says this is beneficial as shippers no longer have to rely on other major ports in Canada to get products to the prairie provinces.
Goods can now get from the Edmonton International Airport to anywhere in western Canada within 24 hours. “The whole prairie region will be affected,” said Hamilton.
“For anyone that’s moving product, we’ve literally opened a whole new world for them,” she added.
Hamilton says the new route will also greatly impact the movement of oil and gas equipment, in both directions. Oil and gas equipment is shipped to China and the route directly links two major oil and gas centers, Edmonton and Dallas.
By linking the two ports the goal is to drive the economy in the region. “There’s a direct link between business driver and the economy,” said Hamilton.
She says it is often unknown to the public but one of the major goals of the airport is to drive the economy of the region.
Hamilton says the Boeing 777 is “humongous” and “the benefit of that is it can take huge equipment.”
Air China Cargo offers a variety of shipping services, from perishables to live cargo. “It’s high volume service on the 777,” said Hamilton.
This deal has been in the works for years and Hamilton says there has been great support from the community.
She added Edmonton is not that well known internationally but Air China Cargo still chose it for the deal, thanks in large part to the geography surrounding the airport. Nearby is the Leduc-Nisku Energy Park, the second largest park in North America.
The airport also offers access to major transport arteries such as the CANAMEX corridor, which connects to Mexico.
“We’re also a 24-hour airport. We’ve never closed our runway, ever,” said Hamilton.
“I think Edmonton has some big assets that are just coming to the attention of international shippers,” she added.