Air Canada has opened a new $16 million cold chain handling facility at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The facility’s inauguration, announced in March, will “expand and enhance” the airline’s handling of fresh food, pharmaceuticals, and other perishable products, said news from Air Canada.

“The enhanced temperature- controlled facility is the only one of its kind for a Canadian airline and positions Air Canada Cargo to continue successfully growing our business, including the launch of our dedicated freighter aircraft,” the news release quoted Jason Berry, Air Canada’s VP, Cargo. The facility has temperate-controlled areas of over 30,000 square feet and expanded cooler. The news release said the upgrades “are the first step in a multi-year investment plan for the facility and are part of several planned infrastructure investment projects for Air Canada Cargo.”

Features of the renovations include temperature controllers to reduce energy consumption, rapid roll- up doors to reduce energy loss, and LED lighting, also to reduce energy use. The new cold chain centre “will enhance and accelerate the movement of food and other temperature-sensitive products,” said Brian Dove, Marketing Manager for VersaCold Logistics Services, Canada’s largest refrigerated warehousing company. “However, due to the high cost of air freight transport, it will not replace traditional modes of transportation,” Mr. Dove added.

VersaCold, which has four sites in the Greater Toronto Area, handles air freight, including “higher-end, time-sensitive food products,” Mr. Dove said. “We are well-positioned to provide complementary services for food that is either coming or leaving Canada via air freight,” he added.