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Transport Canada contributes $14M to Winnipeg airport cargo expansion

Winnipeg Richardson International Airport plans to commence construction of an $87 million multitenant air cargo logistics facility in April with the help of additional funding from the government of Canada. 

Transport Canada on Tuesday announced it has invested $14.5 million to boost Manitoba’s global trade connections through increased cargo capacity and efficiency. The federal government previously pledged $22.4 million for the project in 2019. 

Winnipeg is the third Canadian airport this year to receive an investment from the federal Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative, a merit-based program designed to make Canada’s trade corridors to international markets more reliable and efficient. The government has allocated $3.5 billion over 11 years to modernize roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, port facilities and supply chain capabilities.

Officials say Winnipeg needs to expand its cargo campus because the number of freighter movements has increased each year since 2016 in response to demand for goods.

The new cargo terminal will have 142,500 square feet of space and the advantage of being closer to freighter parking positions, which will speed processing and support quick distribution to customers. It will also feature a cold-storage area for perishable goods.

“With today’s investment, we’re improving the Winnipeg James Richardson International Airport to handle more cargo,” said Dan Vandal, Canada’s minister of northern affairs, in a statement. “This initiative will not only boost trade flows but also improve accessibility and affordability of goods in remote and Northern communities and help grow Manitoba’s economy.” 

Work on the redevelopment of Winnipeg airport’s cargo area began in 2022 with extensive construction on the airfield and demolition of the former Air Canada Cargo building. As part of the project, the apron will be expanded and current tenants will be relocated.

Major express carriers with parcel sorting facilities at the airport include DHL, FedEx, UPS and Purolator. Other all-cargo operators at Winnipeg airport include Cargojet, Chrono Aviation, Skylink Express and Morningstar Air Express.

The airport authority in 2020 opened a 96,000-square-foot ground services equipment building, giving greater proximity to flights for previous tenants of the cargo campus that exclusively handle cargo on passenger aircraft while freeing up valuable space for all-cargo operators on the campus.

Winnipeg airport is located near rail networks operated by CN, Canadian Pacific and BNSF, as well as the TransCanada Highway. Highways also connect the airport to the U.S. market, 60 miles to the south.

Cargo traffic, as measured by gross takeoff weight, has been relatively flat year over year compared to many airports worldwide that have experienced large drops in volume.

Transport Canada in August awarded $69 million to Toronto Pearson International Airport to turn an underutilized office building into an airside cargo complex and $8 million to help carrier Canadian North double the size of its cargo terminal at Ottawa International Airport. 

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

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