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How Does Cargo Operations And Schedules Work?  
User currently offlineavi8 From United States of America, joined Jun 2011, 662 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4979 times:
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I have always wondered the strange schedules that cargo airlines have. For example, I was at BOS about 4 days ago and saw about 4 FedEx planes parked at the cargo ramp. Doesn't FedEx have its main hub at Memphis? Why don't cargo airlines focus more on hubs like regular airlines do? Also, isn't it a poor utilization of aircraft to leave a cargo airplane sitting all day in the cargo ramp and then flying it at midnight? I would appreciate some answers cause this has been a question I've had for years.

Cheers, Avi8


avi8
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 4827 times:

There are two completely separate types of airline cargo operations.

A point to point operation carries cargo from place A to place B. This type operation usually is focused on an industry and the plane waits for full cargo.

A few companies fly to Del Rio Texas - DRT - wait until a load of automobile parts clear customs coming in from Mexico and fly to the assembly plant destination - such as SHV. That plane sits on the ground between flights waiting for another load to be identified and contracted.

The hub type operation which was the FedEx business model is focused on a regular flight schedule to a sorting center and back to destinations.

Those flights do not fly in the day time because the packages are being picked up at various businesses and consolidated before loading and shipping. That is what you are seeing at BOS with FedEx.

FedEx sent aircraft from BOS to MEM, IND and EWR yesterday evening/night according to FlightAware. One MEM flight departed early in the evening, and another later as the two loads of packages were collected. The EWR flight continues on to Los Angeles. The IND flight is focused on upper midwest cities cargo.

Hub operation cargo airline aircraft normally remain at the RON location (though it is actually daylight) because that positions them for the next load.

[Edited 2012-02-03 11:43:23]

User currently offlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9642 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 4792 times:

You have lots of questions. First off, I think 4 planes is likely because there was that much capacity needed. BOS is a big city, so that makes sense to have that many airplanes.

Cargo carriers do focus on hubs and banks. FedEx has its main hub in MEM, but it also has significant operations in IND, EWR, OAK, ANC, AFW & MIA. IND is used as a reliever for MEM, and the others are focused more on regional traffic.

Cargo airlines have notoriously low fleet utilization. That's a major part of the reason why they fly older airplanes with lower acquisition costs. Cargo flights need to connect in banks, and the highest revenue cargo is overnight cargo. You will see many FedEx planes sitting all day until the evening departures. During the day, the whole fleet is on the ground. Despite having over 600 airplanes, they have only about a dozen flights during daylight hours in the US.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15744 posts, RR: 27
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 4781 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 1):
Hub operation cargo airline aircraft normally remain at the RON location (though it is actually daylight) because that positions them for the next load.

Passenger airlines often do the same. The same plane makes the last flight in the evening and first flight in the morning. At some spokes I've had to wait on a late evening flight while the ground crew pushed the previous plane to a hardstand so we could use the gate.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlinerutankrd From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 2995 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4706 times:
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Cargo operation can be decided into three basic categories:-

1. Fed Ex , UPS and DHL are primarily small package/box operators rather than bulk cargo.

These airlines use the large fleet to move small packages such as those distributed by Amazon , e-commerse, electronics and pharmaceuticals on a just in time basis and all do use HUBs.

Much/most of these kind of packages are ordered today and are required to be delivered tomorrow.
Goods get collected/dispatched from supplier depots all over the USA and indeed the world usually between 3 and 5 pm each working day are driven to local distribution hubs.

There they are sorted with local packages set aside for subsequent road delivery following morning, international and national packages are split and then these are loaded onto trucks for delivery to the nearest airport used by the said carrier .
Loaded onto planes and dispatched via various hubs transferred and flown to a distant point off loaded driven to another distribution depot . Loaded onto yet another truck and dispatched to the customers address.

This is logistics at work.

The aircraft used by these consolidators can be in house, franchised or contracted and frankly have nothing to do during the day .

2. Then you have the global true freight carriers Cathay Pacific Martinair Cargolux, Lufthansa Cargo, BA World Cargo Korean etc.....

These tend to move bulk cargo and perishables from markets such as East Africa and Asia into Europe and North America and these are less likely to stand around during the day.

Their customers are direct sales , and freight forwarders and can be anything from a simple box through the cars/trucks and even other aircraft.

3. Thirdly you have ad-hoc charter and dedicated carriers such as Airbus and Evergreen special 744s and the An124/225
Hired on contract basis and operate as required.


That said they do tend to use off peak slots at the majors.


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15744 posts, RR: 27
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4647 times:

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):
Much/most of these kind of packages are ordered today and are required to be delivered tomorrow

...or in two days, in which case the carriers often let them sit for a day at which point they become overnight.

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):
Goods get collected/dispatched from supplier depots all over the USA and indeed the world usually between 3 and 5 pm each working day are driven to local distribution hubs.

One of the things FedEx can do with the 777 is have more nonstop flights. While a lot of freight can wait and a fuel stop is no big deal, having more nonstop flights allows FedEx to make the deadlines for sending the package a bit later than they would be otherwise.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2798 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4643 times:
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You do also have to remember it wouldn't make much sense to have flights leaving at 10 Am, 2 Pm, 5 Pm, 10 Pm, etc beacuse they are are just going to fly empty and the later flights loaded.The trucks don't go out for an hour and come back and drop off and go back out. They do their deliveries and pick ups and come back in with all the outgoing packages. Better to have 4 aircraft sit there all day and all go out full in a 45 min span than send more partially loaded flights out all day. Plus they don't need to please business customers with more flights. I'm sure contract work might increase utilization and provide some revenue but probably not much in the grand scheme of things.
Blue



You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7175 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4575 times:

Just think as cargo operations like fed ex the opposite as passenger flights. The cargo wants to fly over night 6pm to 6am p, so just like how in TLH you may see a bunch of airliners resting overnight there from 10pm to 6am even though it is not a busy airport at all they are there because they were the last flight out of the hub and in the morning they will be the first flight into the hub to spread the passenger. It is just about the same exact thing but instead there are boxes. And there are a few random daylight flights just like there are a few red eye flight etc..


"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineDalmd88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2554 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4560 times:

Drive by BOS at 1 am. You will see lots of passenger airlines with airplanes just sitting. DL alone has about 15 mainline airplanes a night at that one non hub airport. Some will sit for about 6 hours between flights others up to ten. FedEx and UPS just work on the other hours of the day.

User currently offlinefuelfool From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 138 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4534 times:

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 2):
Despite having over 600 airplanes, they have only about a dozen flights during daylight hours in the US.

FX does have flights during the day. There about 15 in/out, from across the US, of IND, alone. MEM has a day sort with at least 50 flights, as well. Most of the FX day operation is USPS Priority mail.



I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning...Smells like victory!
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 10, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4507 times:

Quoting Dalmd88 (Reply 8):

Somone couldn't understand this but I had to explain it like this. At an average outstation the last departure is usually around 7pm (east coast) for a given airline, yet there are arrivals through the evening, some coming in as late is midnight. Those flights aren't turning anything. They are RONs that will make up the morning departures.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlinerotating14 From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 663 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4477 times:

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):

  

Spot on.

Also take into account that FedEx and UPS play the US time zones to their advantage depending where their aircraft is going. For example when I was working at FedEx in FLL our am flights were 1 DC-10 and 1 727 from MEM and 1 DC-10 each from Newark New Jersey and DFW. They all rolled in about 5 minutes behind each other (when there wasn't an aircraft maintenance delay or weather delay). We stripped them down and loaded them back up with freight for their arrivals at their respective ramps. Thats FLL, in MIA UPS had quite a few 767's parked during the day and night. To add with the quote above, most package delivery schedules including First Overnight are that you bring them to the station before a certain cutoff to then have that parcel delivered by truck to the respective ramp or truck depot to then have it flown to the ramp of where it . Ramps like FLL and others dont keep frames during the day or night unless they have the need for extra lift, in which case GOC will ferry a A310 or similar sized aircraft. Hence why BOS, MEM, DFW, Indy and Newark have frames parked during the day because the freight traffic warrants the parking.   


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 12, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4416 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 1):
Those flights do not fly in the day time because the packages are being picked up at various businesses and consolidated before loading and shipping. That is what you are seeing at BOS with FedEx.

Not quite right and FuelFool beat me to it but there's plenty of day flying now. The schedules today bear no resemblance to the original hub and spoke system of the early 70s. Granted there is a hub and spoke but it can be very complicated and I don't even try to explain it. If you were sitting in MEM around 8am the ramp would be bare but by 0930 to noon you'll see the ramp fill up. If you just drove by you'd see a full ramp, jets just sitting, but from about 1430 to 1600 they all leave again. Granted some domestic cities in smaller markets may have the jet sit all day before leaving that evening but world wide I don't think it's true.


User currently offlinetb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4109 times:

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):
Thirdly you have ad-hoc charter and dedicated carriers such as Airbus and Evergreen special 744s and the An124/225
Hired on contract basis and operate as required.

Ad-hoc, you call, we haul. 2 hour notice to wheels up and we are gone! That's our business model if you want to call it that, pretty simple.



Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlinebomber996 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 391 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 4019 times:

If you're ever up in the early hours of the morning then you see that cargo airlines can actually act just like a passenger airline. I'm talking like 3am. Go to MEM during these times and there is a whole heck of a lot of movements. The 3 am push at MEM is impressive. Planes come in around midnight, and there are a lot of them, they un-pack then re-pack, then are sent right out again. I was in MEM and saw this operation this summer. literally lines 15 strong at 3 different runways for a good two hours. Nothing but A300's, A310's, MD-10's, MD-11's, 757's, 727's, and 777's.

Here are some good video's to kind of illustrate this:

First video is a storm rolling through MEM and shows all the FX aircraft fly around the storm and even some divert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGxGJieVRhs&feature=fvst

Second video is all of the mainline aircraft operations of FX in a 24 hour time lapse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xEczrGIy08&feature=related

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 2):
During the day, the whole fleet is on the ground. Despite having over 600 airplanes, they have only about a dozen flights during daylight hours in the US.

According to the second video this is actually true. I counted only two aircraft at one point, but at others there are literally hundreds flying. I don't think they show all the contract carriers for FX though, otherwise there would be a lot more operations shown on this video.

Peace   



AVIATION - A Vacation In Any Town, I Own Nothing
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 15, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3958 times:

I'm not sure where you got this. I just looked at the MD-11 bid pack and there's at least(I quit looking at 15) 15 lines of "day turns" (flts that arrive in the morn and leave in the afternoon) for Mar.
that's not counting other flights that end up arriving back in MEM during the day nor all the other jets. I didn't want to go thru all the diff. jets bids. All you have to do is see the ramp at noon and see what's left at 4pm.


User currently offlineBlueJuice From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 3933 times:

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 15):
Second video is all of the mainline aircraft operations of FX in a 24 hour time lapse.

One of my favorite vids but I prefer the version that uses the Led Zeppelin song Going to California.  


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 17, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 3929 times:

Cargo is collected & reaches the customer in the day.....Cargo Aircraft out here fly at night.
Point to point schedule works great currently.although Hub & spoke are an option to some.
The schedules involve a lot of transfers between aircraft at sectors & OTP is very critical to its success.



Think of the brighter side!
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