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Air China Cargo is about to begin the first direct freighter service linking China with Canada, a route that will link Shanghai with Edmonton and a second important North American oil city, Dallas.
“This will be the first freighter route between Mainland China and Alberta, and is a key step in connecting two economies with high-growth momentum,” Air China Cargo Vice President Patrick Yu said. “The market demand for direct cargo services between Asia and Canada has been growing, and our brand new route will help build important trade links between the two regions."
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson agreed. “This new cargo service is a game-changer for the Edmonton metro region,” he said. “Air China Cargo’s confidence in Edmonton, as its inaugural Canadian entry market, is underlined by our strong logistics and economic fundamentals.”
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The Edmonton International Airport (EIA), where the cargo flights will land, issued a statement saying the service will provide Edmonton with direct and economical access to “many consumer goods like smart phones, tablets, audio-visual components, fashion merchandise and many other retail products to Edmonton from China.”
As a result, the EIA said, estimating that the new freight route is likely to generate a gain of $31 million per year for the Edmonton area in central Alberta. Already, since 2012, Asian investment in the province has exceeded $30 billion, the statement said.
Air China Cargo’s new Shanghai-Edmonton-Dallas route is scheduled to begin Sept. 3 and will operate three times a week, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, using the new Boeing 777F air freighter. The jets will land at EIA six times a week, three flights from Shanghai and three from Dallas.
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The new service will expand the carrier’s presence in North America, in addition to 172 destinations outside North America. Air China Cargo also has 1,285 truck routes in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe the United States to deliver goods it sends by air directly to their destinations. Its Chinese air hubs are in Beijing and Guangzhou as well as in Shanghai.
The EIA has long hoped to have a direct air link with China, but not one that moves passengers. Instead, the airport has been trying to establish an air cargo service like the one that’s about to open up because it sees trade, not human travel, as a more important stimulus for the region’s economy.
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Edmonton now ranks as Canada’s fifth-largest municipality and is known as the oil capital of Canada. The new direct air cargo route linking it with China can only make it bigger, according to Tom Ruth, the president and CEO of EIA.
“Air China Cargo’s investment in EIA greatly expands the Edmonton Metro region and Alberta’s cargo network,” he said. “Our energy, manufacturing, agriculture and other industries can now ship goods more efficiently to China and the Asia-Pacific region, expanding our region’s global trade reach.”
The new route – the only freight service that directly connects Alberta and Texas – also will benefit Dallas by increasing the capacity of cargo shipments between Canada and the United States, increasing the efficiency of moving products and tools between the two important North American energy hubs.
By Andy Tully Of Oilprice.com
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Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com