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   Vol. 23 No. 10
Wednesday February 28, 2024

Buffalo Cargo Delivering At Jet Speed

Buffalo Airways, Mikey McBryan

     “We join a very small group of companies (in modern times) that can say they’ve flown DC-3s and B737s,” says, Mikey McBryan General Manager Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife on Northwest Territories-based radio station Cabin Radio.
     Hay River-based Buffalo acquired the 737-300SF saying the purchase was necessary because existing freight connections into the NWT cannot keep up with next-day demand. Freight carried by Buffalo mostly arrives in the Northwest Territories by truck. Cargo is then loaded onto the airline’s DC-3 and C-46 aircraft, some of them 80 plus years old, for onward travel to the territory’s smaller communities.
     It is extraordinary that the acquisition of a single aircraft would garner continued and widespread attention from the media, but Buffalo Airways is no ordinary carrier.
     In 2022, Buffalo said its 737 would replace much of the airline’s reliance on trucks to get freight into its network. The likes of DC-3s, C-46s will still be used to cover the final journeys into smaller NWT communities, not least because the 737 is not equipped to handle gravel airstrips.
     So with characteristic determination and dedication to lift on through temperatures that can hit -40°C, Buffalo has spent its first winter with a cargo jet when we caught up with Mikey.
     Mikey McBryan is the perfect combination of smart and dedicated up in the morning, out on the job with his Dad Joe, brother Rod and other members of the family and the extended family of people, many whom have garnered an international following due the television series, Ice Pilots, a show all about the people and the airplanes of a cargo airline. Today there are maybe 100 episodes of Ice Pilots playing in places like The Weather Channel, Ice Pilots YouTube, on video by special order and on social media.

FT:       Is your first jet freighter delivering performance and revenue as expected?
MM:   The Buffalo Boeing has been doing very well considering how the cargo market down south softened. We are lucky to have northern locations with paved runways.
     Reality is that our B737 is the apex predator in terms of cost per pound!
     We have been able to stay in the black despite crazy weather, ensuing issues with barge deliveries and delayed or shortened ice road access across our service area.”
     Our Boeing offers value for money and service reliability, lessening the monetary impact for shippers during continued seasons of unpredictable weather.

FT:      The heart and soul of Buffalo Airways not to mention the color and excitement of the cargo offering, especially in winter has historically been the service offering to those small settlements of Native Canadians and other destinations up north the airline serves. How has the new aircraft impacted that service?
MM:   Buffalo is turning 54 years old this year and we have always been part of the Northern Communities for generations. The community has been very excited with our new 737 and it’s become its own tourist attraction up here with all social media joining in and sharing the excitement.

FT:      What are the opportunities the jet brings to your service?
MM:   Bottom line is the bigger the plane the less over all flying per pound and of course the cost per pound goes down. People that have followed Buffalo have seen our intrepid DC3s,C46s, and other great aircraft and in most cases likely care about airplanes.
     But at the end of the day for air cargo the customer focus is about price and service.
     The Boeing is flying into new horizons for Buffalo Air Cargo.

FT:      Is there thought to add to the fleet?
MM:   We would be interested in a 737-400 and possibly aircraft that can expand our gravel operations as well.

FT:      Now that you operate a dedicated Cargo B737 what is your take on the travails of the recent models?
MM:   A lot of people told me that Boeing doesn’t care about the smaller operators. That could not be farther from the truth. Everyone I have interacted with at Boeing has been very helpful and very quick. So when I see them having issues in the news I know it is a problem they take very seriously and they will be back at top very soon.

FT:      Has Buffalo looked at a QC variant of the type such as has or had served in Hawaii?
MM:   I personally don’t get excited by hauling passengers in a 737. The extra cabin safety procedures and requirements is not something I want to invest time and effort in. We want to haul freight and focus on doing that as best as we can.

FT:       I noted in an interview your Dad (aviation pioneer and legend of Canadian aviation Joe McBryan) mentioned you as point man early on in the Boeing experience. Has Joe a true reciprocating piston engine devotee softened up his view on jets for cargo?
MM:   He took he first ride yesterday in the 737 and the Captain Brian Harrison said at the end my father said “it’s pretty cool”.
     So that is probably the best response you could hope for.
     But I am sure he will not be trading in his DC-3 PPC anytime soon . . . or ever.

FT:      Where will Buffalo be at trade shows 2024? TIACA Miami in November?
MM:   Unfortunately Buffalo like many companies are currently working around the clock 24/7 with total service commitment. While wishing our service partners and possible future business all the best. While we are talking one on and face-to-face working with customers, we also ask your readers kindly to visit us either on our website or by direct contact with me personally /and or team,” Mikey Mc Bryan concluded.. www.buffaloairways.com.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
European Editor-Marco Sorgetti • Special Commentaries Editor-Bob Rogers • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend
Film Editor-Ralph Arend

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