Air Canada






7373 Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu Ouest
QC, H4S 1Z3

Tel: 18001028182
Fax: N/A



  • 2020: Air Canada named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc.
  • 2020: Named one of “Montreal’s Top Employers” for the seventh consecutive year by Mediacorp
  • 2020: Top 100 employers on the Forbes World’s Best Employers, listed in the transportation and logistics category.
  • 2020: 5-Star rating in the Global Airline category by Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), an hontheir based on passenger feedback and ratings.




Teresa Ehman




Report created by Kavita Kripalani

Air Canada

SECTIONS :  Sustainability    Evaluation  •  Progress  •  Watch  •  Overview


Company Activity

Air Canada provides airline transportation services. It engages in full-service airline, scheduled passenger and cargo services, serving more than 200 airports on 6 continents.

Air Canada operates flights in Canada, the USA, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The company was founded on April 11, 1936 and is headquartered in Saint-Laurent, Canada.

Company Sustainability Activity

Air Canada approaches sustainability through their three pillars of sustainability––”Our Business, Out People, Our Planet.” Air Canada coordinates corporate sustainability initiatives through a Corporate Sustainability Working Group and a Corporate Sustainability Steering Committee

The Corporate Sustainability Working Group, composed of senior management subject-matter experts from diverse functions, is tasked with the oversight and monitoring of Air Canada’s corporate sustainability initiatives. This Working Group reports on the progress of such initiatives to the Steering Committee, which includes several executives. Ultimately, corporate sustainability initiatives are reported to, and are under the oversight of the Board of Directors of Air Canada, including through the Governance and Nominating Committee.



  • Ranked in the top 3% of airlines included in the IATA Operational Safety Audit 
  • Grew to over 30% of women on Board (as of 2020)
  • An important contributor to the travel and tourism sector worldwide, which, in 2019, represented approximately CAN$102 billion in annual GDP and employed over 1.8 million people in Canada
  • Deployed Multi-Factor Authentication program to Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge employee base 
  • Implemented the Amadeus Altéa Suite passenger service system (completed in 2020) 
  • Introduction of Airbus A220, expected to average 20% less fuel consumption per seat and emit 20% less CO2 and 50% less Nitrogen Oxide than the aircraft they replace 
  • Managed the safety risk and hazards associated with the introduction of aircraft, new routes, and new initiatives or projects 
  • Strong privacy action plan 
  • In 2019, they  joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), a voluntary initiative with a principle-based framework for businesses, comprised of ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor rights, the environment and working against corruption in all its forms


  • Engaged workforce of close to 38,000 employees 
  • Was recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the fourth consecutive year, named one of Canada’s Top 100 employers for the seventh consecutive year 
  • Supported 315 registered charities through the Air Canada Foundation with more than $2 million net fundraised for communities they serve and where their people live 
  • More than 100 million miles donated by Aeroplan and its members for charitable purposes
  • Disaster relief aid deployed for Canadian floods and Hurricane Dorian 
  • Created a change management Centre of Excellence 
  • Further developed the Emerging Leaders Program 
  • Implemented community partnerships in support of regional network performance, talent acquisition and socio-economic development


  • Experienced a 19% improvement in fuel efficiency between 2009 and 2019 
  • On target to meet the annual 1.5% fuel efficiency improvement by end of 2020 
  • Progressed on work towards carbon-neutral growth in 2020 for international aviation (through CORSIA) 
  • Continued to support for the development of lower-carbon Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in Canada 
  • Continued to act on the 2020 Corporate Waste Strategy through the following: 
    • Single-Use Plastics Reduction Program: in 2019, Air Canada successfully removed 38.2 million pieces of single-use plastics from onboard 
    • Expansion of the collection and recycling process in certain Maple Leaf Lounges
    • Centralization of waste infrastructure at Montréal Headquarters 
    • Continuous improvement audits to the Onboard Domestic Recycling Program: achieved 2020 recycling efficiency target in 2019


  • An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020.
  • A cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth).
  • A reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels.


Sustainable Fuels 

  • Alternative sources of fuel that have a lower life-cycle carbon footprint than today’s jet fuels offer a potential solution to meeting increasing demand for air travel. Therefore, they are an important environmental focus for Air Canada. 
  • Over the past several years, Air Canada has participated in eight biofuel flights and actively supports the development of sustainable alternative fuels in Canada. Through the National Airline Council of Canada (NACC), they are engaged in fuel policy discussions on the treatment of jet fuel to develop supportive policies under Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard and in 2019, they joined BC-SMART, a consortium comprised of refineries, government, the Vancouver Airport Authority, airlines, and other members. BC-SMART drives coalition building and information sharing to explore technology development and deployment (hardware) and policy tools (software) to encourage regional production and use of drop-in biofuels as a sustainable, affordable, and commercially viable solution for long-distance transport.

Efficient Operations 

  • Air Canada has a strong incentive to reduce weight on board its aircraft. Removing only one kilogram of weight fleetwide translates into a savings of 24,500 litres of fuel and 63 fewer tonnes of GHG emissions released over the course of a year. To reduce weight and increase their fuel efficiency, they have in place a fuel efficiency working group that looks at every opportunity to reduce fuel consumption. 
  • Since 2016, over 100 projects have been achieved by this fuel working group and these have saved close to 140,000 tCO2e (or 30,000 passenger cars driven for one year). 
  • The various initiatives put in place by the fuel working group range from operational improvement such as an optimized profile departure, RNPAR (a type of performance-based navigation), single engine taxiing to aircraft weight reduction such as the use of lightweight crew luggage, iPads for pilots (replacement for paper manuals) and lighter weight composite onboard carts. 
  • Since 2017, Air Canada’s livery paint system uses the latest technology –Base Coat Clear Coat– designed to reduce their carbon footprint through significant weight and fuel savings. The paint system also features no chrome, lead or other heavy metals and is expected to last longer (approximately 11 years) when compared to standard paint (6-7 years). The new livery is also far less complex, producing less waste, among other benefits. With the aircraft retrofitted in 2019, they saved an additional 375 tCO2e emissions.
  • In 2019, they optimized the duty-free catalogue and the Air Canada enRoute magazine by using lighter paper without compromising the product quality. This resulted in a savings of 553,972 kg of fuel (692,465 L) which means that they saved 1,788 tCO2e or the equivalent of 386 passenger cars driven for one year!
  • They also reduced the number of newspapers they carry on flights. Air Canada continues to work on fuel contingency and management programs and has extended some of these to its regional carriers. Although Air Canada’s ground operations make up a small fraction of the Company’s overall emissions, they look to adopt new technologies and innovative practices to reduce GHG emissions wherever feasible. One area of focus is the use of alternative energy in their fleet of ground support vehicles such as tractors. 
  • To date, 2,500 or 50% of these vehicles are powered by alternative means like electricity and propane which, when combined, lower emissions by approximately 15% compared to their use of conventional fuel. After successful testing of an electric conversion kit that uses the latest lithium ion battery technology, they converted 62 of their previously fossil fuel powered ground support vehicles to lithium-ion powered. 
  • To date, they have introduced a total of 71 new lithium battery tractors. they are engaged with airport authorities at their largest Canadian hubs to expand the facilities to support alternative fuel charging stations in key areas of these airports. 
  • In addition to adopting lower carbon alternatives, they also reduce emissions from their ground vehicles by using less fuel with operating GPS systems, such as iRamp, that assist their employees in ensuring the optimization of the running time of their vehicles

Market-Based Measures

  •  Another way they work to reduce GHG emissions is by participating in industry efforts to adopt appropriate market-based measures which are interim measures put in place to help aviation manage the carbon emissions for which it is responsible, while new aircraft technology and sustainable aviation fuel production are readily available. 
  • The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), adopted in 2016, includes emissions from international flights. In 2018, the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) were amended to implement CORSIA. The carbon offsetting obligations under the amended CARs are scheduled to become effective January 1, 2021. Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada’s regional carriers have submitted emission monitoring plans to Transport Canada in compliance with the amended CARs. The measure is designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures that air transport is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation. It will be the first global carbon offset system for a single industry. Under CORSIA, any growth in emissions beyond the baseline will be offset by the emitters (airlines) through the acquisition and remittance of carbon offsets or the use of sustainable aviation biofuels. Canada has committed to participate in CORSIA, which will be voluntary from 2021 to 2026 and become mandatory for most countries beginning in 2027.

Less Noise in Their Communities 

  • Reducing the effect of noise to and from the airports they serve is a priority. they actively participate on noise committees with multiple stakeholders, including airport authorities, local government, air navigation service providers and other air carriers to improve noise conditions around airports. When investing in new aircraft, the noise impact is also considered, to ensure that they reduce the noise footprint as much as feasible. The vast majority of their aircraft achieve or surpass the Chapter 4 noise standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the A220-300 will provide 75% reduction in noise footprint compared to other aircraft in its category. To further minimize noise, airports have developed noise abatement procedures that their flight crews comply with, and carefully manage operating hours during the night. Furthermore, as a result of technological improvements, aircraft produced today are 50% quieter than they were 10 years ago and 75% quieter than the first generation of jet aircraft (as reported by Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders). 
  • As early as November of 2015, they have been operating narrow body Airbus aircraft with the FOPP Cavity Vortex Generator modification installed. Additionally, in 2018, they proactively initiated a program to add a noise reducing device to the remainder of their A320 family aircraft that are scheduled to remain in their fleet beyond 2021. By the end of 2019, they completed the retrofit on 51 of 65 (78%) aircraft that were scheduled to remain in their fleet. 

Climate Change 

  • Carbon offsets are measured in tonnes of CO2-equivalents (or CO2e) they encourage their customers and employees to reduce the carbon emissions associated with their travel by packing light and offering voluntary carbon offset programs
  • In 2007, Air Canada was one of the first airlines to offer customers and employees the opportunity to purchase offsets for their flights, allowing them to fly carbon neutral. their offset partner, Less Emissions, offers Gold Standard-certified- and VER+ Standard-certified based offsets –the highest quality offsets available in Canada and abroad. 
  • Since the beginning of the program, their customers have offset around 60,128 tonnes of carbon dioxide: the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 78,500 acres of forests in one year!

Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Gathering 

  • In 2019, Air Canada sponsored the ICE Gathering in Ottawa, where more than 180 people representing nearly every region in Canada met and discussed ways in which communities could move towards cleaner energy. ICE aimed to provide the audience with the skills required to develop clean energy programs, generate revenue, and train youth in their communities. Various projects focused on solar-source energy, like the Fort Chipewyan solar project (the largest of its kind in Canada), and wind-sourced energy, among others. As the sponsor airline, they supported Indigenous capacity building and collaboration efforts and strengthened their relationship with these communities. Air Canada representatives were also present to discuss Air Canada’s commitment to Indigenous communities as well as ways in which they have reduced their carbon footprint. 


  • A key component of Air Canada’s Corporate Waste Strategy is their Single-Use Plastics Reduction program. This strategy focuses on minimizing their plastic use both on board and within their facilities. Air Canada’s plastic reduction efforts include researching and rethinking important decisions made at various stages of their supply chain with the goal of minimizing their single-use plastic use. 
  • A Plastic Reduction Committee continuously reviews their plastic inventory to determine which products to focus on and how to eliminate and replace them. 
  • In 2018, Air Canada identified options to eliminate, replace, or reduce their single use plastic items on board and in 2019, they announced the removal of 35 million plastic items from service. they look forward to making more announcements moving forward. They supported this work in partnership with University of Toronto graduate students in the final year of their Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. The students worked with us to identify alternatives to plastic use onboard their aircraft. In summer 2019, they replaced plastic with wood stir sticks in drinks served on all flights. The amount of plastic stir sticks removed would, if laid end to-end join Halifax and Vancouver. The stir stick replacement is made of bamboo and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which assures products come from responsible sources so that forests remain thriving environments for generations to come. In fall 2019, they minimized the plastic used in their Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy amenity kits, moving from individual plastic packaging to a small plastic security tab. This change furthers their commitment to examining all single-use plastics on board and doing their best to find sustainable alternatives for them. Result: a total of 2 million plastic bags were removed. 
  • Finally, Air Canada removed 750,000 outer plastic bags and 450,000 outer plastic packing from their Skyrider kits
  • On the ground, in 2019, a project was initiated to install water refill stations in operational work locations at Toronto-Pearson Airport, for their ground support equipment, maintenance, and cabin service employees. They are working to expand this initiative to other operational groups, to minimize use of single-use plastic water bottles.

Do More: For their Oceans 

  • In 2019, Air Canada was proud to be the exclusive Canadian airline to partner with 4ocean, an organization on a mission to reduce pollution in oceans around the world and create jobs in the process. A major initiative of this partnership included two Air Canada-sponsored public clean-ups in North America. The first public clean-up took place in Clearwater, Florida, where more than 80 Air Canada employees were joined by over 1,100 volunteers to help clear the shoreline of plastic and debris. The second clean-up took place in Richmond, British Columbia with over 340 community and employee volunteers. Between the two clean-ups, nearly 28,000 items were removed including plastic cups, beach toys, Styrofoam® pieces, plastic bottles and caps, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic straws and more…including a car bumper!


  • Bronze certification with Excellence Canada on mental health in the workplace
  • CSA Standard-Certified Canadian Offsets: Sourced from projects that have achieved certification under the CSA Standard, a globally recognized standard for voluntary GHG emission reductions projects
  • Gold Standard-Certified International Offsets: Derived from international projects meeting the Gold Standard Foundation’s sustainable development criteria, as well as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism protocols. These offsets are endorsed by leading environmental groups, including WWF International. their offset partner, Less Emissions, offers Gold Standard-certified- and VER+ Standard-certified based offsets –the highest quality offsets available in Canada and abroad. 
  • IEnvA – a two-stage certification process, specific for airlines and demonstrates equivalency to the new ISO 14001: 2015 environmental management systems standard. In 2018, they achieved Stage 1 and became an IEnvA Stage 1 registered airline. In 2019, they continued with preparing for the Stage 2 certification assessment (expected in 2020). Upon successful completion, Air Canada expects to be the first airline in North America to be IEnvA Stage 2 certified.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

United Nations SDGs Compliance



  • Air Canada employs numerous communications processes within the organization to promote safety and permit the SMS to function effectively. It is also imperative that there is uninhibited reporting of hazards and occurrences that may compromise the health, safety, and/or security of Air Canada, its employees, customers, or property. Their Safety and Security Reporting Policy provides a confidential process, and assures that no Company disciplinary action, or reprisal, will be taken against any employee who reports a hazard or occurrence that affects safety. 


  • All safety data at Air Canada is stored within the Air Canada Safety Information Management System (SIMS). Safety reporting is accessible to all employees via SIMS for the purposes of submitting a report and receiving acknowledgment. This system facilitates and enhances their capabilities in the capture and analysis of safety reporting and quality assurance data. It also includes the capability to monitor safety risk and compliance and links to Occupational Health and Safety tools. 
  • All safety metrics are reported on a quarterly basis to each branch and ultimately the Corporate Safety Board (composed of executives and senior management) and the Board of Directors (Safety, Health, Environment and Security Committee). This continuous feedback loop improves and informs their training on health and safety risks and keeps good working practices in place. 


  • Air Canada’s Corporate Wellness program has a 4-prong approach: (1) overall health and wellness, (2) mental health, (3) financial health, and (4) work health. In 2019, a new management position was created, with general oversight of the program. 
  • Upgrade to a Better You Upgrade to a Better You (UBY) is Air Canada’s unique well-being program that offers personalized programs to employees and equips them with various resources, tools, and expert advice on things like health and financial management and overall well-being – health and wellness; mental health awareness; financial well-being; and attendance support. Through this program, employees have access to LifeSpeak, a total well-being platform which gives employees and their family members instant access to information and expert advice on all kinds of topics, from physical and mental health, to relationships, financial health, and caregiving.


  • Air Canada is very proud of their female leaders, participating in missions, summits, workshops and more. In 2019, they participated in the first Canadian women-only trade mission to Japan. It was also the first Canadian gender-based mission to Asia led by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Including site visits, presentations, key stakeholder discussions and networking, the focus of this highly influential group of women was to create new business opportunities, expand Canada-Japan networks of female leaders and enhance understanding of Japan’s unique business, culture and society. 
  • Members of their Global Sales’ Business Development team are also participating in the tenth annual G(irls)20 Summit in Japan. Launched in 2009 by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the G(irls)20 seeks to turn ideas into action, placing young women at the centre of decision-making processes. The event focuses on leadership training, social enterprise development and mentoring by female leaders in the business and public sectors. 
  • Air Canada has actively sponsored and partnered with organizations dedicated to the increase of participation and leadership of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. One example of this is their partnership with #MoveTheDial, a global movement to develop and encourage females in tech. In November 2019, #MoveTheDial, in partnership with Air Canada, held its global summit in Toronto, Ontario. 
  • Air Canada also sponsored the Equal Voice’s Daughter of the Vote 2019, which gives women the opportunity to become familiar with Canada’s political institutions and to inspire them to participate and act in their local communities. In 2019, 338 young Canadian women participated in the four-day, multi-partisan program, taking the seats of their respective Members of Parliament in the House of Commons in Ottawa and engaged ministers, party leaders, critics and advocates, as they shared their visions for their communities in Canada.

SDG 8 


  • The retention and cultivation of employees is the cornerstone of healthy work culture and protects the longevity of a business while setting it up for future success. 
  • As a sustainable corporate citizen, Air Canada looks to have a positive impact on their communities, locally and globally. Therefore, focusing on building a sustainable workforce is mandatory to contribute to socio-economic development. This is made possible with the people behind the scenes at Air Canada, their Talent Acquisition professionals. 
  • Sustainability unites the teams responsible for creating a better work culture and healthier work-life balance while contributing positively to customers and the world. From 2009 to 2019, their workforce grew by 33%. During this time, they continuously polished their talent acquisition process, transforming recruiters into brand ambassadors; revamped their career Website, using social media and other communication tools to promote careers at Air Canada; and organized outreach networking sessions and worked with community partners to recruit multilingual and diverse candidates. This strong foundation will be key as they begin to rebuild the airline once they emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.


  • Air Canada’s contributions to the well-being of communities take various forms. Through the Air Canada Foundation, it directly funds or otherwise supports charitable programs to benefit vulnerable children. To maintain strong linkages with local communities, particularly around economic development, it develops community partnerships. It also supports a wide range of cultural activities, including in the arts, sports, and other areas. 


  • Air Canada recognizes that employees’ professional development and competencies are not acquired through training alone and continues to look for ways in which experiential learning will help employees drive performance, innovation, and organizational success. In 2019, it offered several Emerging Leaders programs such as Managing the AC WAY, Leading the AC WAY, mentoring, coaching, and others like HR fundamentals, and the new directors in development series which all offer experiential learning opportunities

SDG 10


  • To further celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019, the Operations Centre at Air Canada celebrated the accomplishments of women in aviation. Led by the women of SOC (System Operations Control), activities were held to raise awareness of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the industry.


  • In selecting their suppliers, they carry out due diligence, using up-to-date industry-standard tools, to identify legal and reputational issues. they have implemented a Supplier Code of Conduct, which is a key component of their responsible and sustainable sourcing strategy. This code is principles-based and sets out their expectations of suppliers to ensure their behavior aligns with Air Canada standards in the following key areas: business integrity, responsible and safe business practices, responsible treatment of individuals, and respect of the environment. 
  • The Supplier Code of Conduct sets out specific standards they expect their suppliers to uphold at all times, including on matters relating to forced or child labor, non-discrimination and human rights, safe and healthy employment conditions, ethical behavior and much more. To help ensure adherence to the Supplier Code of Conduct, they are committed to working in partnership with their suppliers. Suppliers may be asked to confirm in writing periodically that they meet the expectations of the code. Certain audit rights are also available.

SDG 12 


  • In 2019, they took delivery of the last of 37 Boeing 787s previously ordered for their fleet. These aircraft, also known as Dreamliner, are the most modern commercial aircraft in operation and deliver an approximate 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the aircraft they replaced. Their narrow-body fleet renewal program is also accelerating with the first delivery, in late 2019, of the Airbus A220. These aircraft are expected to average 20% less fuel consumption per seat and emit 20% less CO2 and 50% less nitrogen oxide than the aircraft they replace. The Airbus A220 deliveries will extend to 2022
  • Between 2009 and 2019, Air Canada has improved its fuel efficiency by 19%. The Company is also well on target to meet the annual 1.5% fuel efficiency improvement by the end of 2020. The fuel efficiency for consolidated operations system-wide (Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express carriers) was 32.53 L/100RTK, an average year-over-year improvement of 2.07 percent since 2012. 
  • In 2019, their fuel efficiency did not reach their expectations, due to unplanned changes in fleet. The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX had an important impact on their operations, and the way they flew their aircraft. It also meant that for most of 2019, some of their most fuel-efficient aircraft were grounded. To maintain their schedule, some aircraft flew different routes than those they were originally planned for and as a result, their fleet was not used to its maximum fuel-efficient capacity. In addition, less efficient aircraft were kept longer in their fleet, and less-efficient aircraft flew under third-party agreements to operate the schedule. Therefore, their GHG intensity, which is directly related to the amount of jet fuel consumed, was impacted by this fleet disruption.

SDG 13

  • IATA’s aviation industry climate action plan has set targets to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport: • An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020: a cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth), a reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. IATA has adopted a 4-pillar approach to achieve this goal: more efficient aircraft operations, improved technology, including the deployment of sustainable (low carbon) aviation fuels, infrastructure improvements (including modernized air traffic management systems), single Global Market-based measures to fill the remaining emissions gap.


The company sets a few good targets and provides decent information about their progress. Air Canada also has some decent certificates, awards, and listings. They attempt to directly address 6 of the 17 UN SDGs. 

Air Canada produces a solid report with targets and goals for reducing their CO2 emissions, energy consumption, recycling, human rights, and gender equality in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Air Canada is positioning itself well to tackle the effects of carbon footprint. However, with the sheer scale of the company, this is a massive amount that needs to be offset, and they still have a long way to go. This company has been rated a C. 

Analyst Outlook: Positive

The company should adopt additional targets, apply them through all aspects of their organization, and track the exact metrics of their progress. They should also continue garnering more certificates and accolades to validate their efforts. By doing these things, they will be on the right track to becoming a more sustainable business.


Key Points

  • High fuel prices drive airline concern over the environment. Reducing carbon footprint can save money provided the technology is cost-effective. Though modern jets and the newest engines are far more efficient than ever, Flying still accounts for an estimated 2% of the world’s carbon emissions (though some critics suggest it’s as high as 5%).
  • Air Canada’s 2019 Sustainability Report  has been prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards: Core option. Internationally recognized as a leader in sustainability reporting standards, the GRI helps maintain transparency in corporate reporting related to economic, environmental, and social performance. 
  • Certain of Air Canada’s environmental achievements are also detailed through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report. The CDP questionnaire aligns with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.
  • Since the release of Air Canada’s 2018 Citizens of the World, they have become an official signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)
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