Aviation and Global Market Opportunities in Foreign Trade Zones

Aviation and Global Market Opportunities in Foreign Trade Zones

Alberta is North America’s key international trade & shipping center.

With Alberta’s global strategic location positioned on the CANAMEX Corridor with Canadian Pacific Railways access and three international airports, exports jumped more than 8% between 2017 and 2021. Alberta is naturally prepared for future aviation and logistics growth with its low operational risk from natural disasters. The province has zero probability of structurally damaging earthquakes in the next 50 years and less severe storm events than most Canadian provinces. 

Beyond its natural appeal for aviation and logistics, Alberta is actively laying the groundwork for the future. The Calgary Airport Authority is investing $2.8 billion over 10 years to meet increasing demand and develop the 330-acre YYC Global Logistics Park while the future of drone technology is taking place at the Foremost UAS Test Range, one of only two Transport Canada-approved locations for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) testing.

Edmonton International Airport

Alberta Stories

Edmonton International Airport

Alberta is building its cargo capacity, leveraging innovative robotics and AI technology to streamline logistics, and developing the talent needed to be Canada’s aviation and logistics centre.

Alberta has two Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ), a well-developed freight and e-commerce distribution network and is expanding its warehousing and distribution facilities. It’s also home to the head offices of WestJet and Canadian Pacific — one of the country’s largest airlines and transcontinental rail carriers, respectively.


Alberta’s two international airports have full-freight aircraft cargo handling, consolidation and freight forwarding capabilities. They offer some of the lowest operating costs and plenty of available warehouse space in a central location that specializes in receiving, transferring, storing, and distributing cargo. The Edmonton and Calgary airports are both designated as Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ), which allows the deferral of taxes and tariffs on goods. 

The Edmonton International Airport is Canada’s largest airport by land area. The YYC Global Logistics Park is the Calgary Airport Authority’s newest trade development with 330 acres of land. Both airports have significant capacity to allow for Calgary and Edmonton to be leading North American manufacturing and distribution centres. Alberta, at the CANAMEX corridor’s northern tip with two major rail carriers and intermodal terminals, is perfect for ground transportation business and US-Canada trade operations.


Alberta has excellent flying conditions, abundant land and wide-open spaces, perfect for training commercial pilots, especially as the global aviation industry faces a labour shortage. Many Albertan aerospace companies provide services such as maintenance, repair, overhaul, and modification of military and commercial aircraft.

Alberta is home to 420 of Canada’s 1,900 registered business aviation aircraft. Business aviation is a major contributor to Alberta’s economy. Headquartered in Calgary, WestJet airlines has scheduled service to 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe with increasing international and transborder passengers from 2022 through 2023

Road Transport times to Major Markets

Road Transport Times to Major Markets from Calgary & Edmonton


Alberta has many post-secondary programs that support the needs of its growing transportation and logistics sector.

Alberta has the third largest general freight trucking industry in the country with over 3,622 trucking companies. With the trucking industry demand expected to increase through 2025.

The province has many post-secondary programs that support the needs of its growing transportation and logistics sector. The Driving Back to Work grant helps make the necessary Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) more affordable. The program is expected to grow Alberta’s existing talent pool of more than 150,516 Class 1 drivers. 


Alberta has begun integrating advanced robotics into its transport and logistics supply chain. The Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre at the Edmonton International Airport serves as a dedicated center for aerospace training and a world-class technology centre. Current programs include remote operated vehicles, fuel and heating innovations, and managing wildlife with robots.

The Foremost UAS Test Range provides a testing environment for a wide range of commercial drones, such as fixed-wing and multi-rotor models. Drone delivery services are an emerging field in transportation that could revolutionize industries such as healthcare, worldwide. These initiatives are driving forward Alberta’s presence in the global drone market.


Home to Canada’s only beyond-line of sight, restricted airspace, Alberta is a desirable place for companies to test remotely piloted aircraft systems technology. To support the defence industry, Alberta companies are making and maintaining the Canadian Forces’ technical equipment such as communications systems, software, specialized sensors, and other electronic components.

Alberta is also leveraging its expertise in geomatics, imagining and instrumentation to advance aerospace-based geomatics and scientific research.


In Alberta, we’re always seeking to improve our environmental footprint across all sectors. This has led to the Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project. Led by the Alberta Motor Transport Association and funded through Emissions Reduction Alberta, AZTEC is demonstrating the use of hydrogen in fueling long-haul trucks. The project positions Alberta as global leader in the creation and use of low or zero-emission transportation fuel.

In 2021, Edmonton International Airport became the first airport in the world to join The Climate Pledge — committing to being carbon neutral by 2040.

Airport City Solar, the world’s largest airport solar farm will also be constructed and operational in 2022, generating power for airport distribution systems.

Areas of Focus


  • Corporate aviation
  • Aviation training
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Manufacturing

Alberta is a hub for Canadian aviation as the province is home to 420 of the country’s 1,900 registered business aviation aircrafts. In addition to passenger travel, Alberta companies are experts at providing maintenance, repairs, overhaul and modifications of military and commercial aircrafts.

Advanced Technology and Defence

  • Robotics
  • Systems integration
  • Wireless communications
  • Remote sensing
  • Avionics navigation
  • Global positioning systems
  • Geomatics, imagining and instrumentation
  • Unmanned Systems

To support the Canadian Armed Forces, Alberta companies are developing and maintaining communications systems, software, specialized sensors, and other electronic components. The province is also leveraging expertise in geomatics, imaging and instrumentation to advance aerospace-based geomatics and scientific research.

Cargo and Logistics

  • Warehousing and distribution
  • Air cargo
  • Transcontinental rail carriers
  • Freight trucking

Two Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) at the Calgary and Edmonton international airports allow for the deferral of taxes and duties on goods until they are exported or enter the Canadian market. These airports offer low operating costs, plenty of warehouse space and a hub for receiving, transferring, storing and distributing cargo.

Tax advantage

Low taxes and business-friendly policies make Alberta the perfect place to invest

Low corporate tax burden

Alberta’s corporate tax rate has dropped to 8% — the lowest in the country and competitive across North America

13 ¢/litre

Lowest fuel tax on diesel in Canada

Foreign Trade Zones

Calgary and Edmonton are both Foreign Trade Zones

Global connectivity

Alberta moves people and goods everywhere across the country and internationally

Calgary International Airport (2019)

  • 269 daily flights
  • 88 non-stop destinations
  • 18 million total passengers

Edmonton International Airport (2019)

  • 55 destinations
  • 8.15 million total passengers

Significant aircraft cargo handling

Calgary International Airport and Edmonton International Airport are the 5th and 8th leading cargo airports in Canada

Two largest transcontinental rail carriers

CN and CP transport 66 million tonnes in and out of the province

CANAMEX Corridor

Alberta exports $4.46 billion worth of goods to the US and Mexico by road

Extensive trucking industry

Third largest General Freight Trucking industry in Canada — with over 3,622 trucking establishments


Alberta’s aviation and logistics sector is supported by vast rail and road networks, as well as significant logistics and warehousing centres

YYC Global Logistics Park

330 integrated, multimodal business parks connecting commercial, airside and logistics businesses to the Calgary International Airport and Alberta’s trucking network

Investing in the future

Calgary International Airport will be investing over 2.8 billion over the next 10 years to grow its logistical and cargo advantages

Fresh Cargo Centre

Offers 5,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space and direct airside access to EIA

Certified pharmaceutical distribution centre

EIA is the first airport in Canada to receive the IATA Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) in Pharmaceutical Logistics

Availability of industrial space

Calgary (9%) and Edmonton (7.8%) have the highest overall availability of industrial spaces compared to other major Canadian cities

CN’s Walker Yard

One of the largest rail yards in the Western Canada — extending 50 blocks

Calgary Logistics Park

680 acres state of the art intermodal terminal operated by CN Rail

Largest airport in Canada

Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is Canada’s largest airport by area

Research and Development

Many Alberta companies, military agencies and educational institutions are working in various forms of remotely piloted aircraft systems research and development, testing, and manufacturing.

Defence Research and Development Canada’s Suffield Research Centre

The Suffield Research Centre invests in unique and sensitive science and technology capabilities including chemical-biological-radiological (CBR) defence in the areas of personnel defence and medical countermeasures, blast protection and injury, advanced energetics and weapons effects, autonomous systems, and training in CBR defence.

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National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

Designed to expand Canadian nanotechnology expertise, capacity and capability, and foster breakthrough research, the Nanotechnology Initiative includes a $10M investment over three years for nine projects aligned with National Research Council of Canada (NRC) strategic priorities.

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Alberta Innovates

Alberta Innovates supports research, the growth of business, and help Alberta’s start-up community to build new technology and drive new ideas.

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Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems (CIRUS)

The mission of CIRUS is to expand the role unmanned systems play in data acquisition and management, create organizational efficiencies across a variety of sectors and regulatory environments.

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Alberta Aerospace & Technology Centre

Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC) is an aerospace training hub at EIA dedicated to improving flight safety through synthetic flight training, research and innovation to support regional economic prosperity.

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Technology Access Centre for Sensors and System Integration

The Technology Access Centre for Sensors and System Integration is a world-class systems integration centre staffed with professional researchers who provide industry with prototyping, product enhancement, testing, and characterization services related to sensors and system integration.

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Canadian Pacific connects Alberta to the rest of North America

A global leader in rail, Canadian Pacific (CP) is headquartered in Calgary. Operating over 20,000 kilometres of rail spanning across Canada and into the United States, CP moves products efficiently across North America. The company’s headquarters positions Alberta as a central hub of global supply chains and freight shipping.

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WestJet shows aviation can thrive in Alberta

Headquartered in Calgary, WestJet is Canada’s second largest air carrier and the ninth largest in North America. The airline moves an average of more than 25 million passengers annually and growing its business by offering dedicated cargo services. Along with its corporate offices, Calgary is also the regional hub for WestJet, making the Calgary International…

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