Air Canada Cargo Reacts with Agility in a Global Crisis
Did you know that even if that massive Boeing 777 you’re on is full of passengers, it’s probably also carrying commercial cargo? Computer equipment, pharmaceuticals, even fresh produce might be stacked beneath your feet.
Hauling commercial freight on passenger flights is a solid business. But when passenger flights were all but halted by the recent pandemic, Air Canada Cargo was ready to adapt and take advantage of the unexpected surge in freight demand. The company did it with the help of ibi’s WebFOCUS® analytics solutions, and in the process, rolled out an enhanced pick-up and delivery service for the e-commerce sector.
Measured by cargo capacity, Air Canada Cargo is Canada’s largest air cargo provider with a presence in over 50 countries and hubs in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, London, and Frankfurt. As the dedicated air freight division of Air Canada, it offers reliable air freight lift and connectivity to hundreds of destinations across five continents using Air Canada’s domestic and international passenger flights, cargoonly flights with its fleet of Boeing 767-300ER freighter aircraft, and trucking services.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada only transported cargo using passenger flights. When these flights were halted by the pandemic, and e-commerce shopping soared, more freight space was requested than ever before; Demand was comparable to shipping during the holiday season. To help meet the need, Air Canada removed seats from several widebody passenger aircraft, used regular passenger fleet belly capacity, and added new cargo-only routes. Suddenly, physical capacity was no longer a problem — but data capacity was.
The airline’s legacy on-premises data systems couldn’t keep up with the pressing demand for accessible real-time data. Multiple groups within the organization had taken to building their own adhoc reports, which duplicated work and wasted resources.
According to Matthieu Casey, senior director cargo global sales and revenue optimization, “A lot of users were looking for datasets or reports that had similar attributes. We needed a solution; Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to meet our reporting demands. The traditional tools we had, typically legacy systems, only reached a couple users and not the broad user base, which was one of our big challenges.”
While the company was busier than ever, it needed a better grasp on data to make faster, smarter decisions. It turned to ibi’s WebFOCUS® solution.
Air Canada Cargo worked with ibi to implement an analytics platform equipped with data management, predictive analytics, and powerful visualization. These capabilities enabled better data-driven decisions across the enterprise using reports, dashboards, grids, KPIs, and customer-facing applications at scale. Its integral grids and dashboards wouldn’t have been possible without hyperstage, a unique feature of the ibi WebFOCUS® platform that allowed the team to shift from minutes to mere seconds for data refresh, which improved user experience, optimized resource allocation, and enabled selfservice reports.
Air Canada Cargo used WebFOCUS® throughout the organization to quickly deliver democratized insights and realtime analytics and decision-making, supporting the business in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has flown over 13,000 cargo-only flights since March 2020 and recently added the first of eight converted Boeing 767-300ER freighters to its fleet. Casey says, “What we saw as a result of implementing WebFOCUS® was that we grew the user adoption by 50 percent because we’re reaching more users on the WebFOCUS® platform. And we met nearly all requests from our users for ad hoc reports.”
Air Canada Cargo’s efforts to ensure business continuity through the pandemic proved immensely successful, including development of a new enhanced pick-up and delivery service for the e-commerce sector known as Rivo. Rivo’s information systems integrate into merchants’ websites and, in many cases, show Rivo as a shipping choice during checkout. Since Rivo is a part of Air Canada Cargo and powered by the airline’s domestic network, it can draw from Air Canada ground service partners for faster first- and final-mile transit than the competition.
Matthieu Casey concludes, “Air Canada Cargo has its foot on the accelerator, diversifying its business portfolio and showing no signs of slowing down. We are going into the next phase of our business with a lot of excitement. We’ve launched a new e-commerce product and, drawing on our experience working with e-commerce for a number of years, we are now a partner to a different kind of customer — a complete new stream of business.”