November 21, 2012 4:08 pm

Bigger cargo plane for EIA could be a ‘game changer’ for Edmonton region

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EDMONTON – FedEx Express is upgrading its daily air-cargo capacity between Edmonton and its U.S. Hub, meaning heavier pieces of freight will soon be able to be shipped to the region. 

It may not seem like much, but when it comes to economic development, the upgrade is an indicator of a strong economy, and is being seen as another tool to help local business.

“This might be a real game changer for Edmonton,” adds Daryl Procinsky of Port Alberta, which advocates for better transportation logistics. “People might start looking at the way they manufacture, and what they manufacture in a different way.”

“Up until now, shippers have had to eliminate EIA as an option,” explains Norm Richard, with the EIA, “and start thinking about road carrier services to other airports.” 

Starting in January, those shippers will be able to make use of a wide-body Airbus 310 instead of a narrow-body Boeing 757. The switch will add more than 1,600 cubic feet or 20,000 kilograms of daily freight over existing volume.

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“FedEx Express Canada has tremendous confidence in the economy of northern Alberta,” said president Lisa Lisson, in a statement. “This upgrade in cargo capacity signifies to all businesses and consumers our determination to provide industry-leading convenience and connectivity between Edmonton and the rest of the world.”

It’s the latest upgrade to FedEx’s Edmonton freight-handling capacity. In 2010, the company opened a new 86,000-square-foot sorting and warehouse facility in south Edmonton. In 2008, FedEx introduced a direct flight between Memphis and Edmonton, and over time, upgraded the aircraft from a Boeing 727 to a larger 757. It also increased the flight frequency.

Other major upgrades are happening in the area as well. From the 41st Avenue interchange at Highway 2 to plans by Canadian Pacific to build its new intermodal facility along the highway. 

The work that will have to be done now, is to let businesses know about the opportunities available, so the economic potential can be fully realized and trade and shipment from the region can be expanded.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News and Bill Mah, Edmonton Journal 

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