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Canadian Lobsters Fly First Class

Korean Air Cargo is soaring to new heights out of Halifax Stanfield International Airport, thanks to a growing demand for Canadian lobster. Exports of live lobster to China have skyrocketed more than 400% in the last five years. 

Korean-Air-Cargo-LogoDriving this demand are the appetites of China’s growing middle class, to whom a lobster is not just a delicacy, but a mark of prosperity. Hard shelled Canadian lobsters are known for their sweet rich taste and large meaty claws.

With strong demand year-round, Korean Air Cargo has been making weekly flights to Halifax Stanfield. Each Sunday, 40-50 tonnes of live lobster are loaded into Korean Air’s Boeing 777Fs. The aircraft refuels in Alaska and lands in Seoul in about 14 hours. “Their largest shipment was 100 tonnes, arriving just in time for the Chinese New Year,” says Jerry Staples, vice president of air service marketing & development at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Korean Air Cargo is deeply committed to providing its customers with the freshest seafood. Korean Air’s cargo station manager, Jamie Kim, explains how the airline’s extensive network into major Asian cities, such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo, make it ideal for shipping live lobsters.


Working closely with buying agents and exporters, Korean Air Cargo guarantees connecting flights for all its bookings so lobsters arrive alive, on time and can command top dollar. “Agents recognize this and, in return, support us,” says Mr. Kim.

Korean Air’s direct flights from Halifax into Asia mean Canadian lobsters are getting there much faster. This is a huge benefit to the Halifax Gateway’s growing seafood exports. “It’s paving the way for producers to get their live lobsters to market quicker and fetch higher prices,” says Andy Lyall, manager of air service cargo sales at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

“Halifax Airport is the best airport for Atlantic seafood export, in terms of location and distance to local fisheries,” says Mr. Kim. A comment substantiated by Chinese seafood giant Zhangzidao Group Corp. who recently acquired its own lobster processing plant in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Located just 20 minutes from the airport, the new owners anticipate shipping 10 million pounds of lobster per year to China.

Bolstering Korean Air’s Canadian freighter network are the services at Halifax Stanfield Airport. At 10,500 feet, Halifax’s main runway easily accommodates large cargo planes. The runway, coupled with 7,000-square feet of cold storage at Gateway Facilities ULC, makes international shipping efficient year-round. 

Additionally, the freight handlers at Gateway Facilities are experts at building large pallets of lobsters. The weight and contour of each load is customized to fit the aircraft. “Some pallets stand 12 feet  high to maximize payload and be the most profitable operation possible,” says Mr. Lyall.

Korean Air is among the largest transPacific airlines in the world. Its international passenger and cargo division service 130 cities in 45 countries. With a dedicated, state-of-the-art cargo terminal in Incheon, South Korea, the airline is a trusted leader in handling time and temperature-sensitive shipments; including electronics, pharmaceuticals and seafood.