FEDEX is growing its regional feeder services with North Carolina-based Mountain Air Cargo with the launch of Cessna 408 SkyCourier revenue flights, reports Washington, DC's Supply Chain Dive.
To date, FedEx has 45 additional Cessna 408 units on order. FedEx became the first company to launch cargo operations using the Cessna 408 SkyCourier, a feeder aircraft that allows for containerised cargo.
Mountain Air Cargo, which operates other feeder aircraft on behalf of FedEx, completed the first revenue flight this month, according to a social media post.
FedEx plans to receive at least fifty C408s to fuel its feeder operations and, so far, has taken delivery of five units, the company said.
The SkyCourier's large cargo door, flat cabin floor and 6,000 lbs maximum payload enables greater operational efficiency, according to the company's website.
FedEx initially signed on as the launch partner for the new SkyCourier in 2017 and, according to the integrator's listed delivery timeline, expects to receive seven Cessna 408 freighters by the end of FY2023, with an additional 12 units in fiscal 2024 and 2025, and 14 more units by end of FY2026.
Although the Cessna SkyCourier was initially delivered to FedEx in May 2022, the integrator assigned the aircraft to Mountain Air Cargo in November, according to Planespotters.net.
After many flight tests, Mountain Air Cargo operated its first revenue flight from Tallahassee (TLH) to Orlando (MCO) on January 3, before returning the next day, according to FlightRadar24.
A second SkyCourier was also assigned to Mountain Air Cargo in September 2022, according to Planespotters.net. FedEx assigned the remaining three of its five delivered units to Idaho-based Empire Airlines, which have yet to begin operations, according to Planespotters.net.
Amid a slowdown in ecommerce and parcel demand, FedEx has been working to optimise its global air network to make it more agile and flexible to generate roughly US$400 million in savings, said CEO Raj Subramaniam.
In turn, the integrator has been scaling back its air cargo operations and relying more on third-party lift. Many of the integrator's service reductions are focused on its express segment, according to CFO Mike Lenz.
"Year-to-date, we've reduced eight international routes and 32 US domestic routes, while parking five additional aircraft," Mr Lenz said.
"This translates into pulling down US domestic flight hours by six per cent and international flight hours down seven per cent in the second quarter year-over-year," he said.
Although its feeder operations may be growing, FedEx is resizing its network - primarily its widebody operations - and intends to ground 11 additional aircraft by the end of the fiscal year, Mr Lenz said.
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