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Yellowknife, Northwest Territories-based Buffalo Airways has purchased its first jet aircraft, a 737-300SF, which will join the airline’s fleet of Second World War-era Douglas DC-3s, C-46 Curtiss Commandos, and a variety of other turboprop aircraft.
Buffalo Airways’ general manager, Mikey McBryan, said adding a 737 to the fleet was necessary to meet increased customer demand for next-day freight delivery.
“Our C-46 cargo aircraft are maxed out daily, so a larger aircraft was needed,” explained McBryan. “Going with an ATR-72 Freighter on this route wouldn’t add much more capacity, so the next step up is the 737.”
The company has contracts with FedEx, UPS, and DHL, among others, that require next-day service. Moreover, McBryan said Buffalo’s biggest customer “is actually ourselves.”
He added: “Our courier company, Buffalo Air Express, accounts for 60 to 75 percent of our nightly cargo volume.”
Buffalo’s new 737 Freighter will operate Monday through Friday (for overnight freight) from Edmonton International Airport (YEG), to Yellowknife Airport (YZF), and back to YEG.
“This leaves the 737 in YEG for the rest of the day to be open for adhoc work,” said McBryan, “and to be availabile for other cargo operators and customers to hire us for scheduled cargo routes.”
The aircraft will allow the company to triple its nightly YEG-YZF-YEG payloads.
Currently, the C-46 can transport one 53-foot trailer of bulk freight each night. McBryan said the 737 “will do two 53-footers,” with nearly enough space left in the belly to fit an entire DC-3 aircraft.
Buffalo said it will need “all new crews” to support the company’s growth.
“Some crews will be upgraded internally, but we will be in need of an additional four pilots,” said McBryan.
The company is accepting both captain and co-pilot positions, to be based out of YEG. Those interested in applying for the job can do so through LinkedIn.
Buffalo Airways has been working on the 737 Freighter project since the summer of 2021. The 737 it has purchased is currently with European Aviation Group in Bournemouth, U.K., receiving its CPCP (Corrosion Protection and Control Program) checks, as well as getting new engines and landing gear.
Buffalo plans to also add ADS-B and a new satellite tracker and communication system to the aircraft.
McBryan said Buffalo found the 737 through aviation company Caerdav, chaired by Bruce Dickinson — lead singer of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden.
“When I was ready to pull the trigger to buy a 737 Freighter, I called up Bruce,” said McBryan. “He and his team found this aircraft — which is a perfect fit for us — and brokered the deal for me. If Bruce’s schedule is open when the plane is ready, he may be able to personally deliver the aircraft to Canada (if he isn’t on tour).”
The 737-300SF purchased by Buffalo was built in 1986, and was converted into a freighter in 2006 by TNT. It was last operated by Swiftair — an airline based in Madrid, Spain.
Buffalo is hoping the aircraft will be ready to go into paint in mid-June, and will fly to Canada “very soon after.” McBryan said there are plans to set up live streams for the aircraft’s departure from BOH to YZF. Those interested in more information can visit McBryan’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/mikeymcbryan