A subsidiary of Chorus Aviation (TSX: CHR) last month began flying packages for Purolator Inc., Canada’s largest courier, with turboprop aircraft under a three-year contract to serve the U.S. cross-border market, the companies announced Wednesday. The expanded air capacity is designed to increase service options for express shipments and is part of a broader effort to invest in infrastructure for the delivery network. 

Voyageur Aviation Corp., which provides short- and long-term air charter services as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul, is operating two Dash 8-100 converted package freighters for Purolator. The regional aircraft is designed to carry a typical payload of 10,400 pounds and a volume of 1,380 feet.

Routes originating in the U.S. will connect to Purolator’s air and ground network that services all regions in Canada. The additional flights give Canadian businesses and consumers more flexibility and speed for e-commerce and other shipments. 

Purolator also partners with Cargojet, Air Canada and other commercial airlines and regional carriers to move packages by air. Cargojet, which reported strong profits based on surging e-commerce business, said Monday that it is looking to expand its operations in the U.S. to take advantage of more international opportunities.

Voyageur and Purolator signed the deal after a six-month trial using Dash 8-100s that had their seats removed on a temporary basis to accommodate cargo in the cabin. The temporary freighters, however, do not have the same carrying capacity as a fully remodeled plane that has been structurally engineered to safely transport heavier loads.

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. stopped making the Dash 8-100s, which could seat up to 39 people, in the 1990s. It currently produces a stretch version, the Dash 8-400.

Halifax-based Chorus also leases aircraft and provides regional air service through subsidiary Jazz Aviation, which flies under contract with Air Canada as Air Canada Express.

“For Chorus, the air cargo market is a growing area of focus. This is another example of our integrated offering of regional services and evidence of our ability to utilize regional assets at various life stages,” said CEO Joe Randell in a statement.

Purolator, which is mostly owned by Canada Post, is investing heavily in new infrastructure. The centerpiece of the program is a CA$330 million ($253 million), 320,000-square-foot national “super hub” in Toronto. The facility, which is scheduled to open in late 2021, will triple package throughput.

The integrated logistics company recently began deploying electric delivery trucks and electric cargo bikes in Vancouver, part of a plan to add 1,000 alternative fuel vehicles over a two-year period.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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