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Air Canada cargo chief to head freighter operator Amerijet

All-cargo carrier Amerijet International has named Tim Strauss, the vice president of cargo at Air Canada, as its new CEO, effective Aug. 17.

Vic Karjian, Amerijet’s current CEO, will become executive chairman and will focus on strategic planning, key partnerships and growth objectives, the company said Friday.

It is a big change for Strauss. He is changing countries and climates – from Montreal to Miami – but also moving from a passenger airline that offered daily scheduled service and marketed the extra space in the baggage hold to cargo shippers to a freight-only airline that runs a smaller network, ad hoc charters and operates aircraft for other airlines.

Strauss previously held executive positions at Delta Cargo (Northwest Airlines before Delta’s takeover), Hawaiian Airlines Cargo, and freighter operator Emery Worldwide. 

In March, he managed Air Canada’s (TO: AC) pivot into dedicated cargo operations utilizing idle passenger planes as mini-freighters to help the airline cope with the downturn in travel revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Air Canada was an early innovator in removing seats from the passenger cabin to make room for main-deck cargo. It has converted several Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 widebody aircraft into full freighters, although upper deck storage is limited to light boxes. Other aircraft, including Boeing 787s, are operated as temporary freighters with cargo limited to the lower hold. The company has operated hundreds of international cargo-only flights so far.

Strauss also led Air Canada Cargo to explore ways to optimize operations using artificial intelligence and drones.

“Tim brings an enormous amount of expertise and experience to Amerijet and will be a key driver of our future success,” said Karjian. 

Strauss takes over Amerijet, owned by New York-based private equity firm ZS Fund, during a period of profitable growth as it transitions from a regional to a global air cargo provider with scheduled and charter services that include turnkey leases or just crews, maintenance and insurance for customers that have their own jets.

The company started in 1974 with one leased aircraft providing small cargo and passenger flights between the U.S. and the Bahamas. It operates a dedicated freighter fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft from its primary hub at Miami International Airport to destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America and Western Europe. The company provides about 500 million available ton kilometers of freighter capacity annually. 

Amerijet is also active in the U.S. military’s Civil Reserve Air Fleet program.

Within the U.S. and Canada Amerijet provides full truckload, less-than-truckload and expedited trucking services. 

Early this year, Amerijet began scheduled non-stop service from Miami to Brussels after the Federal Aviation Administration certified it to operate twin-engine aircraft for extended ranges. Freight is connected to a road-feeder service in Europe.

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


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at