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Why Do US Airlines Seem To Be So Against Cargo?  
User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1542 posts, RR: 1
Posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 9350 times:

WIth the disbanding of NW's cargo fleet (or should I say "DL's" now, but anyhoo....) I don't believe any of the other US pax carriers have dedicated cargo ops. This in contrast to Europe (with at least AF/KLM and LH, not sure about others) and Asia (CX, KE, EK, more?)seem to have pretty sizable cargo divisions to go along with their pax ops. Put another way: the way I see it, despite what previous DL CEOs might have said, there obviously has to be some money in cargo, or else there wouldn't be so many cargo carriers across the globe-- right?

75 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2752 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 9344 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
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The thing with NW's cargo division was it was just running on old gas guzzling planes. I think unless they had put in orders several years ago for the 747-400/800F this was where they were headed. Now with regards to Asian cargo it is much easier to accomplish. Especially with the rise of goods being made in countries like China. I am sure cargo can be very profitable. If you look just at the QF from LAX-JFK that flight primarily runs on cargo revenue. Although there is a fair amount of pax that it caries the cargo is where much of the revenue comes from. I don't really think US airlines are against cargo I just think they think that they can just stick it out with throwing the cargo on passenger jets.
Blue

[Edited 2009-05-28 17:57:13]


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User currently offlineJetlanta From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 3250 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 9296 times:

Keep in mind that FedEx and UPS compete in this marketplace. No operator of a similar caliber exists in Asia (except FedEx and UPS!) and Europe only has one...DHL.

FedEx and UPS are among the world's most efficient and successful corporations. It is a very difficult market for U.S. combination carriers to compete in when they have suffered so much in recent years.

[Edited 2009-05-28 18:46:47]

User currently offlineIFlyATA From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 238 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 9268 times:



Quoting Jetlanta (Reply 2):
Keep in mind that FedEx and UPS compete in this marketplace. No operator of a similar caliber exists in Asia (except FedEx and UPS!) and Europe only has one...DHL.

 checkmark 

I'm not sure if this is true (going to look up some numbers), but it seems too that the U.S. has more ACMI carriers: Southern, Atlas, Kalitta, ATI, Centurion, Arrow, Capital, Evergreen, Polar, World.



ATA - an honestly different airline.
User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1351 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 9258 times:

U.S. mainline freighters that I remember seeing...


Northwest 747-200 (still)

United DC-10

American 707


What am I missing?


AA and DL had C-130s for a brief tenure, I think, but that was a tad before my time and I never did see one.


PS



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineHatbutton From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1500 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 9247 times:



Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
I don't believe any of the other US pax carriers have dedicated cargo ops.

Well technically AS does with the 737-400F we have. And in a sense the 5 combi aircraft could be considered freighter ops. So yes there is...but granted it's not anywhere near a fleet of 747s but we are sure proud of it  Big grin


User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16817 posts, RR: 51
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 9215 times:

No one does it better than FedEx and UPS.


Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineJetlanta From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 3250 posts, RR: 35
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 9186 times:

I might add that DHL, which is very successful on a global scale, was absolutely slaughtered by FedEx and UPS when they entered the U.S. domestic market. What chance did U.S. combination carriers have, particularly when most gave up on freighters decades ago?

User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 9069 times:



Quoting Jetlanta (Reply 2):
Keep in mind that FedEx and UPS compete in this marketplace. No operator of a similar caliber exists in Asia (except FedEx and UPS!) and Europe only has one...DHL.

FedEx and UPS are among the world's most efficient and successful corporations. It is a very difficult market for U.S. combination carriers to compete in when they have suffered so much in recent years.



Quoting Jetlanta (Reply 7):
I might add that DHL, which is very successful on a global scale, was absolutely slaughtered by FedEx and UPS when they entered the U.S. domestic market. What chance did U.S. combination carriers have, particularly when most gave up on freighters decades ago?

You are talking about two completely different types of operations. Fedex, UPS and DHL are package delivery services. They pick up a package from your office, warehouse or factory and deliver it to another warehouse, office or factory.

All cargo airlines (or cargo subsidiaries of passenger airlines) do little of this. They offer point-to-point service. If you have something you wish to transport from Seoul to Chicago, you drop it off at the airport in Seoul and pick it up at the airport in Chicago.

The cargo airlines usually carry bigger items. Perishable items, live animals such as racehorses, large items such as helicopters. American cargo carriers carry a lot of goods for the US Military. I have seen Atlas Air 747s in San Diego several times recently. Even rock groups such as Madonna will charter a freighter to carry the sets for concerts.

Some of the airlines in Europe and Asia are relatively large. Cargolux has 16 747-400 freighters. Cathay Pacific has 20 747-400 freighters. Korean Air has 22 747-400 freighters.

One of the reasons you don't see all cargo carriers in the US is because of our railroads and highway system. We truck things coast-to-coast. But it is difficult to truck something from Seoul to Bangkok. The roads are not in place and ships are too slow.


User currently offlineMrcoffee From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 30 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 9053 times:



Quoting Aviateur (Reply 4):
American 707


What am I missing?

TWA also had 707 cargo planes. Till the late 70's, I believe.


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15715 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 8972 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 8):
You are talking about two completely different types of operations. Fedex, UPS and DHL are package delivery services. They pick up a package from your office, warehouse or factory and deliver it to another warehouse, office or factory.

FX and 5X both also carry "traditional" freight too don't they? I think some of the UPS 747s have the nose door. I don't know about your Christmas gift giving habits, but the average Amazon.com shipment doesn't require the nose door.  Smile

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 4):
United DC-10

I remember seeing those at STL, along with various DC-8s. Now it is just MD-10s, MD-11s, and 727s.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8940 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
FX and 5X both also carry "traditional" freight too don't they?

They do carry some freight, but FedEx runs a hub-to-hub system. For example, if I ship something from San Diego to Frankfurt, it will go SAN-MEM-STN-HHN. It will change aircraft twice between SAN and HHN.

If I wanted to ship something from San Diego to Frankfurt via CargoLux, I would hire a truck to carry it to LAX, put it on a Cargolux freighter to LUX and hire a truck to ship it from LUX to Frankfurt.

Federal Express says "All express freight must be forkliftable, stackable, banded and shrink-wrapped." Their largest size is "Maximum skid dimensions are 119 inches (302 cm) long, 70 inches (178 cm) high, with a maximum length and girth of 300 inches (762 cm)." They will not ship a car, helicopter, polo pony or anything bigger than 5 x 10 feet.

Cargolux says "The catalogue of Cargolux’s experience with this type of commodity ranges from flight simulators to helicopters, from aircraft engines to mill wheels, from propeller drive shafts to escalators for shopping malls, machinery, vehicles, heavy generators and oil drilling equipment." When I worked for Continental Airlines, we shipped spare engines either by truck in the US or air cargo if it was going somewhere like Guam for Air Mike.

Fedex/UPS and the cargo carriers are just different types of companies.


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21474 posts, RR: 60
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8915 times:

As UPS and Fedex grew, dedicated freighter service at US carriers disappeared. But that doesn't mean that US carriers are "against cargo" as they carry lots of it in the belly of the planes. AA, UA and DL are huge cargo operators. Just count the number of widebodies between these three...


Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineYULWinterSkies From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2176 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8915 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 11):
Federal Express says "All express freight must be forkliftable, stackable, banded and shrink-wrapped." Their largest size is "Maximum skid dimensions are 119 inches (302 cm) long, 70 inches (178 cm) high, with a maximum length and girth of 300 inches (762 cm)." They will not ship a car, helicopter, polo pony or anything bigger than 5 x 10 feet.

And neither do the pax airlines which do not have a cargo division, since there simply is no room for anything bigger than the dimensions of the belly.



When I doubt... go running!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15715 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8900 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 11):
flight simulators to helicopters, from aircraft engines to mill wheels, from propeller drive shafts to escalators for shopping malls, machinery, vehicles, heavy generators and oil drilling equipment."

I don't know all of the industry definitions, but this wouldn't fit my unofficial description of "traditional" cargo. In my mind, there are packages, "traditional" cargo shipments (things shipped by pallets mostly), and then outsize things like the above. FedEx and UPS seem to have the first two pretty well covered, with the likes of Atlas, Evergreen and others doing a lot of outsize cargo hauling, along with other work too.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2558 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8892 times:

To start a cargo division at an established US airline, they'd have to do the equivalent of beginning another whole airline. A cargo division would require the purchase and integration of a completely different fleet type, different training, new cargo facilities at each of the airports they might serve, different crew training and scheduling procedures, different FAA Ops-Specs, inspectors, ground equipment, marketing & sales department, etc, etc.

In today's tight fiscal environment (and essentially that of the last couple of decades) no airline would be able to afford such an investment.

The only domestic airline I know of that has some sort of cargo division now is Alaska, with its 737-400 cargo/combi aircraft for use within and to/from Alaska.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15715 posts, RR: 26
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8871 times:



Quoting HAL (Reply 15):

You say that there would need to be dedicated crews, training, and certification so how would this have worked at airlines that operated convertible or QC aircraft? Would bringing back QC planes (not likely) lower the capital investment necessary for a dedicated cargo division?



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineIFlyATA From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 238 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8816 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 11):
Fedex/UPS and the cargo carriers are just different types of companies.

While this is true - cargo is cargo, whether it be parcels or large-scale shipments. FX and 5X meet some of the demand for cargo, and the obscure carriers I mentioned above fill the remaining demand. In Europe or Asia, both FX and 5X have smaller presences and fewer ACMI-cargo carriers, leaving room for the passenger airlines to have a dedicated cargo component.

Just thinking out loud...but I wonder too if the rise in passenger demand in the U.S. during the late 1990s up until 2001 pushed U.S. carriers toward spinning off their dedicated cargo operations. If the passenger side was for whatever reason more attractive to the carriers, it'd be much easier and simpiler for them to disband the cargo brand from having a dedicated cargo fleet, and use those aircraft on passenger routes instead (or use the money from selling them to boost its passenger brand of service).



ATA - an honestly different airline.
User currently offlineCrownvic From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1863 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8795 times:

Because our wonderful U.S. carriers with their great customer service skills can't piss off enough customers, flying with cargo  Smile

User currently offlineOlympic472 From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 456 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8767 times:

Do not forget work rules and pay scale when you throw in cargo ops in a passenger airline. I have to believe that the US airlines do not have an advantage over most other airlines.


Civil Aviation has a "Need for Speed"!
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5105 posts, RR: 22
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 8703 times:

Express and Cargo are two different things. FedEx primarily moves express, but does do a fair amount of cargo. UPS bought Menlo to get into the heavyweight cargo business, and it does do it to a certain extent. DHL has/had a separate cargo division in the US, which moved and moves stuff on its network.

The US pax airlines also move a lot of cargo, in the bellies of their aircraft. DHL has a significant freight forwarding business, that moves stuff on scheduled airlines, and was the biggest customer (or one of the biggest) of NW's dedicated freight operation. They now buy space on Polar, which they own, and so dramatically reduced NW's ability to support a dedicated freighter fleet.

Burlington/BAX Global/Schenker also moves freight/cargo in the US, using ATI and Capitol Cargo as their primary but not sole carriers.

So there's a lot of freight/cargo being moved domestically and internationally on the US carriers; you just don't have the separate freight operations at the major pax carriers anymore, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it lets them focus on their core business.


User currently offlineBeeweel15 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1739 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 8677 times:



Quoting Aviateur (Reply 4):
What am I missing?

What about Pan Am


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User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8400 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 8613 times:

There are a million reasons. Why does LH Cargo exist but not CO Cargo? My standard response will be that LH depends on then kinds of market nationalism that don't exist here. Here, yes our ops will hire the lowest bidder. But another thing is, the USA exports fairly few (manufactured?) bulk goods by air. What we do export can typically fit in a parcel, a pallet or is some kind bulk good that will go by ship. Finally, what dedicated heavy lift carriers we do have in the USA tend to use equipment relatively few hours, which economically justifies old jets ( think DC-10 or 742F or BCF). Is their calculation somehow incorrect, my guess is no.. I am a little suspicious whether some of these flag carrier freighter fleets are a bit of a vanity project. Maybe businesses like to use their flag carrier, or perhaps there is some legal advantage. Here, neither factor is meaningful.

User currently offlineLufthansa411 From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 692 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8528 times:

One of the reasons has to do with economics from a different time. For example, back in the 60's, the German economy was rapidly expanding, and the need for reliable, fast shipping was as well. LH decided to capitalize on this and positioned themselves as a cargo hauler in addition to passengers. They build (at the time) the largest cargo hall on earth to handle everything. They had the worldwide passenger connections and I would not be surprised if there was some feelings of "I've flown LH and it was a pleasant experience, I'll trust my cargo to them as well". As others have pointed out, in the US, trucks and boats can ship things relatively quickly, and with no customs or international bureaucracy to deal with it is easier by truck or boat. Now, imagine you were going from Frankfurt to Turkey in 1970. Each border crossing, your truck is examined. Then, you are crossing through the Balkans, etc. etc. etc.. Its easier to pack it up and clear customs in Turkey only.

Of course, all of this has changed now. But which carriers handle cargo has been established and as long as they stay profitable, they will continue to do what they do. There is simply a different set of political boundaries in N America.



Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
User currently offlineCrimsonNL From Netherlands, joined Dec 2007, 1844 posts, RR: 42
Reply 24, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8514 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Quoting Jetlanta (Reply 2):
and Europe only has one...DHL.

Don't forget TNT!


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Photo © Johan K



[Edited 2009-05-29 02:48:57]


Fly DC-Jets!
25 SEPilot : Excellent analysis. I suspect that you are correct in all of your points. I would just like to add that flying cargo and flying passengers are differ
26 777STL : 757s, 767s, A300s and A310s as well - I used to work on these at KSTL for 5X. Rarely will you see the MD11 at STL, in fact, I don't think I've ever s
27 Enilria : TSA, DHS, & CBP
28 Post contains links and images Mayor : I don't recall any U.S. pax airline that operated the L-100 (C-130) besides DL. I worked on our freighter crew for awhile at ORD. View Large View Med
29 Post contains images STT757 : CO had a Cargo fleet of 727s operating on behalf of DHL in Asia, they served Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Guam etc..
30 Mayor : I recall CO having a 707 freighter at ORD in the 70's.
31 Post contains links Steex : Actually, UPS 635 is regularly operated by an MD11 right now, I see it on the ground frequently on my way home from work. http://flightaware.com/live
32 Post contains links DfwRevolution : See: http://www.united.com/page/article/0,,2618,00.html
33 Post contains images NorthStarDC4M : United worldwide cargo was a fairly recent operation in the 90s... AA also flew 747Fs
34 Mayor : How could I have forgotten that? When AA brought their first 747F into ORD, to much fanfare, as they were taxiing in, they had to make an oblique tur
35 ASMVPGold : Curious... why has AS been successful with their Alaska cargo opps... I guess what i am really asking is why haven't FedEx or UPS stepped in and taken
36 Post contains links and images Hatbutton : View Large View MediumPhoto © Mel Lawrence AS operated 3 of them in the 1970s to ship serious cargo to the north slope in Alaska and throughout
37 Mayor : Well, I wouldn't say a "little" cargo. I believe they operate 737 combis on the interior Alaskan flights. I think the reason that FedEx and UPS haven
38 Hatbutton : Well part of the reason why the AS operation works is because most of the cargo work is done on Combis. Those combis do leave full of cargo a lot, bu
39 Mayor : Ok....I think that was after DL had quit using them. Matter of fact, some of those for AS may have been ex-DL a/c.
40 Hatbutton : Good point. I know at one point AS had a UPS contract in SCC to deliver their packages to the oil companies. It made more sense to pay AS to do it be
41 Eghansen : To go back to the original question, one of the main reasons we do not have air cargo operations in the US is because most cargo in this country is s
42 Mayor : You're correct. Of the DL a/c, one was sold to Saturn Airways, one to Air Finance Inc. and the third to Air Finance Inc. for Alaska International Air
43 BMI727 : Before there were a lot of A300s and 757s but for the last few months UPS has sent an MD-11 most every day. They did. They were painted in the blue a
44 Lightsaber : Its far too easy to buy a used connex (shipping container), hire a team truck to haul whatever you need cross country. Oh, We use FedEx often for fre
45 777STL : " target=_blank>http://flightaware.com/live/flight/U.../KSDF This must be a new development since the DC8 left the fleet. We used to usually see a da
46 BMI727 : You are right, though this was happening before the DC-8s left completely. After the DC-8s it was usually a 757 and A300. Now it is just one MD-11. I
47 IFlyATA : I think before the recession and dive in cargo demand, most were doing fine. It's hard to tell though since almost all are privately held.
48 DBQ : Excellent point.
49 7673mech : Polar is owned by Atlas.
50 7673mech : Evergreen International Airlines is part of Evergreen Aviation - out of McMinnville Oregon. It is owned by Delford Smith. There is a Evergreen Group
51 Burnsie28 : Delta C-130's
52 Wjcandee : DHL has a substantial ownership interest in Polar, but not a majority. I seem to recall 40 percent.
53 Steex : DHL has 49% equity interest in Polar and a strategic alliance with Atlas.
54 413x3 : not only. TNT
55 TUSAA : One reason why a lot of US domestic airlines are shying away from cargo are the stricter rules being placed on cargo by the TSA. It's just not worth t
56 Access-Air : Simply put the way I see it....The major airlines in the US are hurting so badly because they dumped their freighters.....Freight could prop up a lot
57 Mayor : I don't think it's that so much as the fact that many of the small stations have RJs and you just can't haul much cargo on those. It's difficult to s
58 QualityDr : I once gave my wife a Toyota Land Cruiser for Christmas; does that count? I don't think it was air-delivered, though...
59 Mayor : DL dumped their freighters in '73 and they've had plenty of very profitable years since then, just carrying passengers and belly cargo. We used to av
60 Post contains links and images Viscount724 : Only DL. AA never operated the commecial version of the C-130. AA converted about 7 of their 747-100s to freighters. AA also had a sizable 707-320C f
61 Mayor : Don't forget UA's 727QCs.
62 Avalon2862 : Ummm... not quite... they deliver FREIGHT!!! When I played professional polo, we used FedEx to ship our horses overseas... we're talking 4 players wi
63 KELPkid : I remember in the late 1980's (while I was still a high schooler, living in El Paso) searching for a new grill and headlight fascia for my 1984 Ford T
64 413X3 : The economies of Europe and Asia are export orientated. They make their money by making goods and selling them around the world, thus a lot of airline
65 TUSAA : Very true...It's hard to put a HR or load a bunch of bikes on a RJ. Not to sound cruel' but AA makes a lot of money hauling HR's from places like PHX
66 StasisLAX : The integration with Airborne Express was botched by DHL senior management.....
67 BMI727 : And Jim Wilsons on the return leg.
68 Jetblueguy22 : Well because of some of the isolated villages. Many times the only ways you can reach them is through the air. They fly the 737s to a mid-sized airpo
69 Mayor : I used to do interviews with prospective "known shippers" in SLC. They way I understood it, the Feds were all ready to shut down the freight operatio
70 413X3 : I understand that, especially us mail. I just mean anything beyond that is not enough volume for another dedicated cargo company in an already over s
71 Mayor : That's when DL sold the L-100s. They still had 747s in the fleet, had just received 5 DC-10s (temporarily) and were waiting for the Tristars, so the
72 PanHAM : FX does not serve HHN. They have direct flights to FRA and move their FRA sub-hub to CGN in the future. but no flights to HHN- No, you can arrange th
73 413X3 : maybe the back room costs were high enough to offset any gains by flying the cargo? It must be expensive to hire on a full team at the Cargo ops
74 Mayor : Well, at ORD at least, normal cargo agents were used on the freighter crew. They were assigned to the crew for a two month period......lucky me......
75 Mayor : Just another thought to maybe answer the OP's original question. Many of the U.S. carriers have people in the higher reaches of management that don't
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