A company hoping to establish Canada's first scheduled international airline cargo service has chosen the Abbotsford's airport over Vancouver, citing the "delays and complexities" associated with YVR as one of the reasons for the choice.
Hansa Air Cargo is in the process of seeking investors to establish a cargo service that would operate on a fixed schedule, providing B.C. food exporters guaranteed delivery of local fish, beef, poultry and eggs to markets in Asia and Europe, according to Hansa director John Addison.
The cargo service would require a longer runway and upgrades to the instrument landing systems at Abbotsford International Airport - two things that would also make YXX more attractive to intercontinental airlines in the future.
"It would certainly be a valuable addition for the airport," Abbotsford Airport general manager Mike Pastro said of Hansa's proposal.
A cargo service would create jobs in the Fraser Valley, including new businesses concerned with freight handling, storage and delivery, as well as provide agriculture producers with more shipping options, he added.
"We are waiting for them to put the business together, get access to aircraft and work with freight forwarders to make sure there is a market," said Pastro.
Hansa, which was incorporated in 2011, chose Abbotsford over Vancouver in part because of its proximity to agricultural areas in the B.C. Interior and the United States, according to background information provided to The Province.
"Traffic delays and congestion associated with the cities of Richmond and Vancouver will be eliminated," said the documents, adding the company has received an "enthusiastic welcome" from the city.
Addison said the company is currently seeking equity investors, a process that has been helped along by the company's recent registration as an eligible business corporation under B.C.'s Small Business Venture Capital Act, allowing equity capital raised to qualify for tax credits.
It's hoped Hansa will eventually become Canada's first scheduled international airline cargo service. Cargo in Canada is usually shipped through airlines that also carry passengers or courier packages and cannot guarantee scheduled deliveries in the same way as a dedicated charter service.
Allan Asaph, executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, said the city is keenly aware of the airport's importance to the local economy and its administration tries to be "as co-operative as they can to facilitate the needs of new businesses."
The airport's size is one of its most attractive features to travellers. While large enough to offer flights across Canada and to international vacation hot spots, it remains easily accessible, with quick and simple parking and check-in. Despite facing competition from the airport in Bellingham, Wash., the Abbotsford airport continues to grow, adding new flights every few months.
Vancouver International Airport remains the province's largest airport by far. In 2011, YVR handled 223,900 tonnes of cargo.
First reported @ abbotsfordtimes.com