zmp0psa
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Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:29 am

I attempted to search the forum for relative threads, and the internet for information, and I've been struggling to find definitive (semi trustworthy) answers, and unbiased information, as to why DL ended the NW dedicated cargo services and cargo hub in Anchorage.. At the time I was fairly young and uninterested in the industry, so if this is 'common knowledge' please forgive me.

After my quick research I've seen many reasons for the shutdown, including, but certainly not limited to:
1. The dedicated 747F nearing what DL would see as a mandatory retiring age.
2. The loss of the DHL contract
3. NW pleading guilty to price fixing.

I'm not trying to standup for, debate, or stand behind any of these three reasons I stumbled upon, as they certainly are not my opinions.

Any help?!

ZMP
 
PHX787
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:55 am

Don't quote me 100% but I believe it was a combination of things:

Quoting zmp0psa (Thread starter):
1. The dedicated 747F nearing what DL would see as a mandatory retiring age.
Quoting zmp0psa (Thread starter):
3. NW pleading guilty to price fixing.

And also the fact that DL found no profitability in it. DL Cargo is perfectly fine in the cargo holds of it's PAX fleet.
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zmp0psa
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:16 am

Thanks for your opinion. My first thought was that DL was able to send enough freight on its passsenger flights, especially their passenger widebody flights across the Pacific, that the dedicated service could be done away with. I couldn't draw a conclusion as to how DL would have came to said conclusion utilizing the previous NW routes and how NW didn't see this.
 
PanHAM
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:35 am

NW was the last US combination carrier and DL has practically zero history as such, except operating a L100 which may have the only explainable reason in the fact that these are build at Mariettam, an ATL suburb. They may have operated a DC8 freighter as well but I am not sure about that.

NWA operated 707 and 747 freighters from the 60s onwards until DL sold the last freighters. NW has been successful with that operation over the years, they have employed Japanese and Chinese sales staff in the US and the service was reliable.

The fat that NW pleaded to "price fixing" which in fact was a scam by ill informed federal attorneys (there was no price fixing, just the fuel and security charges were pretty much the same at each carrier, which did not need to be fixed, one carrier started with raising or lowering these add-ons and the others followd, the justice system made this a criminal offence which in fact it never was, it wa sjust cheaper to paqy the fines than fighting the system)
cannot have been a reason.

Carriers with belly only capacity have been charged as well.
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wjcandee
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:40 am

DHL bought an interest in Polar and gave them the contract for the work that had been performed with the NW freighters. If the DHL business could sustain the Polar operation (which then sold additional space/weight), it is conversely a significant enough loss to NW to affect the financial viability of their operation. It's not like that revenue was easily-replaceable.
 
jfk777
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:36 am

NW 747 Cargo fleet was old still 747-200 planes. Most Asian cargo fleets were 744 by the time of the Delta & NW merger. NW planes were inefficient and old, the planes werer well over 20 years old.
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:11 pm

FedEx UPS and many others are good at moving freight you can not do everything,

Also freight is only one way.... over the last 25 years USA makes nothing that needs to fly to asia..
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:21 pm

The price fixing settlement was a blip on the radar. What did Northwest Cargo in was losing the DHL contract. Without it, the unit was forecast to post losses for years to come, whether or not the -200s were replaced by -400s.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:36 pm

Quoting COSPN (Reply 6):
FedEx UPS and many others are good at moving freight you can not do everything,

  

This is just a case of a business (DL) focusing on their core strengths, passenger flying, and shedding other activities.

Although, perhaps that theory is out the window now since DL bought an oil refinery.  
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:40 pm

DL belly revenue is 1 billion US$ ++ p.a.

UPS and FEDEX are integrators. That's something different than cargo airlines or combination carriers.

DHL certainly has a better deal and more flexibilkity with Polar. polar's major shareholder Atlas is an ACMI specialist who flies for other airlines such as EK as well as a forwarder, panalpina for which they operate 2 brand new 748F.



.
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mayor
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:46 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 3):
NW was the last US combination carrier and DL has practically zero history as such, except operating a L100 which may have the only explainable reason in the fact that these are build at Mariettam, an ATL suburb. They may have operated a DC8 freighter as well but I am not sure about that.

Nope, no DC-8 freighter. But before the L-100 there were C-47s and C-46s. I doubt the reason they bought the L-100s was because the factory was nearby. The reasons that DL terminated the L-100 service was, mostly, that we had widebodies, which could haul anything that we were currently loading on the Herky. Towards the last, we were loading carts of regular belly cargo on board, just to fill up the plane. I believe that it was also felt, in ATL, that they would like to get out of a dedicated cargo service. The powers that be, were at that time, people that had come up thru the ranks, mostly out of the passenger service ranks, with very little cargo experience. Not until Richard Anderson came along, did we have a CEO that actually promoted cargo and understood it.


Besides, three L-100s was almost the smallest orphan fleet, ever and they didn't have all that much dispatch reliability. You had 3 planes that were covering a system that went to ATL, ORD, BOS, EWR, MIA, MEM, MSY, DAL, LAX, SFO, 5 days a week. We used to joke that if it was less than 24 hours late, it was still on time.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:54 pm

Passenger widebodies have gotten much, much better at moving cargo in recent years. The A330 and 777 both significantly increased the cargo handling capability of DL's international passenger fleet, making the old 742s even more redundant in light of all of the factors listed by others above.
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:55 pm

A number of reasons, really, starting with the actual aircraft - most of which were quite old. The top-tier carriers began phasing out the 747 classics after 2002. Though a few are still flying for major carriers like Atlas and Air Bridge, they've been on the way out for years and I'm guessing that within three years, there will be very few classics flying for major carriers.

The planes were old, and the cost of replacing them with newer 744s at the time of the merger would have been enormous. They also did not fit with DL's cargo model, which focused on belly cargo. DL has done quite well with belly cargo since the merger and arguably it's a better business for them than also operating dedicated freighters. That's why they chose not to keep doing that - beyond the DHL issue.

Now, for the record, any carrier with a cargo division and a passenger division is a "combination" carrier. You don't need a dedicated freighter fleet to be one. There is, however, still one major US airline with dedicated freighter and passenger aircraft serving alongside one another - Alaska Airlines, with it's single 737-400SF and sextet of 734 Combis.
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:56 pm

Quoting COSPN (Reply 6):
FedEx UPS and many others are good at moving freight you can not do everything,

Yup, and how much cargo really needs the outsize capabilities of a dedicated freighter? Not that much, especially when your core competency is belly cargo (i.e., pretty standardized and easily handled, plus somewhat fungible if you have to take a hit for some reason on a given flight) anyway.
 
FlyASAGuy2005
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:56 pm

Should be of note that for the first time, ever; DL surpassed UA in Cargo Ton Miles (back in July I believe). Quite interesting, considering UA}s much larger fleet of 744s and 777s.

Quoting mayor (Reply 10):
ATL, ORD, BOS, EWR, MIA, MEM, MSY, DAL, LAX, SFO,

How things haven}t changed. The biggest domestic cargo stations as of right now seem to be ATL, ORD, BOS, EWR, MIA, LAX, SFO, JFK, SEA, and ANC. Not particular order.

[Edited 2012-09-11 09:00:13]

[Edited 2012-09-11 09:00:39]
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:32 am

Quoting COSPN (Reply 6):
FedEx UPS and many others are good at moving freight you can not do everything,

Also freight is only one way.... over the last 25 years USA makes nothing that needs to fly to asia..

Soo FedEx, UPS and every other airline flying to Asia does not fly any cargo there?
Take a look into the Top 25 Export Destinations by Industry from the USA http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/ocg/exptab.htm Yes some of the exports leaving the USA go to Asia.
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:18 am

Just to clarify, Atlas no longer operates -200Fs. Just -400s and -8Fs.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:20 am

Northwest Airlines used their dedicated freighters, which had nose doors to haul a lot of out size cargo, such as oil rigs and any other cargo that would not fit through a side cargo door. Northwest was very aggressive in promoting its cargo business. It even hauled cattle on the hoof from Canada and the United States to France and other European , Asian and Middle East destinations. Some were shipped for breeding and some countries preferred to slaughter the cattle themselves. Cargo was big business for Northwest Airlines. Northwest bought eight 747-200s factory new. It had modified two of its passenger 747s into freighters. It bought two 747-222s from United Airlines and had Boeing modify them into freighters. These were the last Classic 747s that Boeing ever modified into freighters. They were the only 747-200s that United ever bought new and were some of the last Classic 747s Boeing built.   
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:30 am

Quoting Alnicocunife (Reply 15):

Soo FedEx, UPS and every other airline flying to Asia does not fly any cargo there?
Take a look into the Top 25 Export Destinations by Industry from the USA http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/ocg/exptab.htm Yes some of the exports leaving the USA go to Asia.

They will fly you stuff to Asia but at below cost of operations, You can fly your cattle to Japan from the USA but you will only be paying about 0.50 cents per pound ...so 100% of the money is ex Asia
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:47 am

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 14):
Quite interesting, considering UA}s much larger fleet of 744s and 777s.

Don't forget the A330s when thinking about DL's cargo capacity. Those things are cargo beasts. An A330-300 can handle considerably more belly cargo than a 744 and exactly as much as a 772, and can max out on weight on TATL routes from any DL hub except SLC.

[Edited 2012-09-11 18:49:19]
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:26 am

Quoting Boeing757/767 (Reply 16):
Just to clarify, Atlas no longer operates -200Fs. Just -400s and -8Fs.

Yes, that's correct. I meant to say that they were still operating them recently - which they were. Air Bridge is also done to only one classic, and it'll be gone soon too.
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:33 am

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 19):

Don't forget the A330s when thinking about DL's cargo capacity. Those things are cargo beasts. An A330-300 can handle considerably more belly cargo than a 744 and exactly as much as a 772, and can max out on weight on TATL routes from any DL hub except SLC.

True that. However I did find it a bit surprising. The combined data has been used for quite some time now (some years) and only 2 months ago did DL ever pass the cargo giant that had always been United. MRO had always been a BIG thing for DL by way of Tech Ops for "top off" revenue as I like to call it but cargo really took off over the past few years.

In other news, UA reported a DROP in unit revenue for the month of August (although slight). A 180 compared to its peers included AA; yes AA (DL saw a 4% increase for the month of August).

Little stuff but...
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:02 am

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 21):
MRO had always been a BIG thing for DL by way of Tech Ops for "top off" revenue as I like to call it but cargo really took off over the past few years.

Was it just a coincidence that it was after I left???  
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:16 am

Quoting mayor (Reply 22):
Was it just a coincidence that it was after I left???

HAHA. Should have stuck around another 7 years and retired THIS go around!
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:26 am

DL has already publicly stated that the dedicated 747 freighter operation was losing money was not identified during the merger as a core line of business. Add to that the fact that the global freight business was already weak and continuing to soften, so there were no profits in the foreseeable future. Pretty much a no brainer to shut it down.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:27 am

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 23):
HAHA. Should have stuck around another 7 years and retired THIS go around!

Well, my original plan was to retire in June of 2010, after I turned 62, but when this came up, I couldn't resist.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:42 am

Quoting cargolex (Reply 12):
Now, for the record, any carrier with a cargo division and a passenger division is a "combination" carrier.

That's a belly carrier. Most airlines, with few exceptions, carry freight on their paqx aircraft. FR is one noted exception. To be a combination carrier it needs to have freighters in the fleet.
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cubastar
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:59 pm

Quoting mayor (Reply 10):
Besides, three L-100s was almost the smallest orphan fleet, ever and they didn't have all that much dispatch reliability.
Quoting mayor (Reply 10):
We used to joke that if it was less than 24 hours late, it was still on time.

You brought up old memories, Mayor. The L100's were actually at least fair in their reliability but they just came behind everybody else when it came to priorities (at every city). No one seemed to care if they ever were dispatched on time.

Now, the C-46's were even worse. They really were old and their 2800 Pratts were overhauled by some outfit in MIA (I think) and they really ran late. Worse even, they leaked like a sieve and frequently smelled to high heaven when we were hauling nutria skins out of New Orleans. (Nutria is a South American aquatic rodent with webbed hind feet used for their light brown fur.)

We normally flew the C-46 at six to eight thousand feet right through the showers and T-storms. No radar and only rubber boots for deicing. Water leaked in the cockpit from everywhere. Some of the freighter pilots from ATL evidently went in to our system Chief Pilot at the time (Pre Ball) to get permission to wear military type flying suits instead of our uniforms. If anyone remembers that great man, you certainly already know the answer. Not only NO! but REALLY NO!

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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:19 pm

Quoting cubastar (Reply 27):

Wonder if any of those C-46s are still flying, particularly for Buffalo Airways?
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:33 pm

Quoting COSPN (Reply 6):
over the last 25 years USA makes nothing that needs to fly to asia.

Except maybe 747s, 777s, 767s, and 737s.  
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:38 pm

Quoting COSPN (Reply 6):
FedEx UPS and many others are good at moving freight you can not do everything,

Funny, tho how when either one of them can't move some of their packages, they have to rely on the legacies and their belly freight capacity.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:05 pm

Quoting zmp0psa (Thread starter):
After my quick research I've seen many reasons for the shutdown, including, but certainly not limited to:
1. The dedicated 747F nearing what DL would see as a mandatory retiring age.
2. The loss of the DHL contract
3. NW pleading guilty to price fixing.
Quoting dl747400 (Reply 24):
DL has already publicly stated that the dedicated 747 freighter operation was losing money was not identified during the merger as a core line of business. Add to that the fact that the global freight business was already weak and continuing to soften, so there were no profits in the foreseeable future. Pretty much a no brainer to shut it down.

These are valid reasons, but then it begs the Q why did NW mgmt keep the 742F operation going with such a large fleet?
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:57 pm

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 31):
These are valid reasons, but then it begs the Q why did NW mgmt keep the 742F operation going with such a large fleet?

Undoubtedly it was because the cargo division had been profitable for decades. I don't doubt that it was losing money at the time it was eliminated, but what was making money in the industry in 2009? Pretty much nothing. I don't believe that the loss of the DHL contract was the reason it was shuttered entirely. At the time NW was acquired, which was after the DHL announcement, the cargo division was shrinking as the oldest airplanes hit retirement age. But there was no signs of a total shutdown. In fact, some newer frames had just been repainted, along with I assume a heavy maintenance check. A complete closure was a surprise at the time. The exact reason will never be known publicly, but Delta's "We don't do that (in this case 'cargo')" is as valid a reason as any for the closure.
 
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mayor
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:36 pm

Quoting MSPNWA (Reply 32):
The exact reason will never be known publicly, but Delta's "We don't do that (in this case 'cargo')" is as valid a reason as any for the closure.

In my experience IN DL cargo, I can tell you that there wasn't much chance that DL was going to keep a dedicated freighter division. For years we tried to get them to change their minds, but since most of the people at the top came out of ops and pax service, with no freight experience, we were just wasting our breath. Now, even with Anderson being a proponent of cargo, they're not going to do it, either, especially with the cargo market being down.

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 21):
MRO had always been a BIG thing for DL by way of Tech Ops for "top off" revenue as I like to call it but cargo really took off over the past few years.

In those few years before BK, when the company was losing money, the cargo division was the ONLY division that was turning a profit (for a couple of years). Now, it wasn't that much, in the big picture, but it WAS a profit.
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LAXintl
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:04 pm

Having done some work behind the scenes, the NWA Cargo operation was on the ropes the last few years.

Once the world started experiencing the fuel price run up in 2006 and peaking in 2008 the freighter operation was severely handicapped.

Slowly the freighter network shrunk with SIN, BKK, TPE, CAN and even HKG eventually getting the cut.
By mid 2008 the only remaining freighter stations were NRT, KIX, PVG and ICN.

Simply put the gas guzzling, 3-man, aging classics could not produce the margins needed to even breakeven.

The 20-year Polar-DHL deal which went into effect in 2008 also was about the last straw for the freighters. On some routes DHL made up almost as 60-80% of the volume (virtually 100% at CVG), and its loss was a huge marketing loss to overcome. In some ways NW getting in bed too deeply with DHL left it with not a very robust or diverse customer base to fall back on trying to reassemble the pieces.


Anyhow fast forward to 2012 - with the recent resignation of Neel Shah the SVP of Cargo (came from United in 2008), I think its quite interesting to note that Delta is not even replacing him with a standalone person but instead combining the leadership with the current head of Delta TechOps.
While the replacement might be a capable man in his own right, having a maintenance back ground A&P essentially become the head of cargo - which is very much a PR and sales position, I think it says much as to how cargo is viewed on the macro scale at Delta.
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mayor
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:41 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 34):
While the replacement might be a capable man in his own right, having a maintenance back ground A&P essentially become the head of cargo - which is very much a PR and sales position, I think it says much as to how cargo is viewed on the macro scale at Delta.

Well, Tony Charaf, current head of Tech Ops, WAS head of DL cargo before Neel Shah came to DL, so he does have SOME experience in that field.
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LAXintl
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:56 pm

Actually 4 years between 2000 and 2004, way before Shah -- But fact remains Charaf is an A&P by trade. His entire professional career baring those 4 years has been in the engineering or maintenance fields with vendors or airlines. Not a cargo man.

Shah was brought onboard as he was made promises of a large cargo empire at DL and he was tired of the #2 spot at UA.
DL lost a well respected industry leader with departure of Shah, apparently due to corporate politics games which he would not participate in.

Anyhow - DL cargo as you mentioned is a different animal then NW cargo was. Corporate philosophies and priorities are different.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:02 pm

Quoting mayor (Reply 28):
Wonder if any of those C-46s are still flying, particularly for Buffalo Airways?

Yes ex Delta N9874F is flying for LAC Lineeas Aeres Canedo of Bolivia as CP-973. The others are long gone.
  
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mayor
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:24 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 36):
Actually 4 years between 2000 and 2004, way before Shah

True, but what I said was that Charaf was before Shah. From what I can remember, there was no real leader in between the two of them.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 36):
But fact remains Charaf is an A&P by trade. His entire professional career baring those 4 years has been in the engineering or maintenance fields with vendors or airlines. Not a cargo man.

Also what I referred to was that Charaf had SOME cargo experience before......from 2000-2004, as you mentioned......at least it's not like Charaf's predecessors, who had zero experience in cargo.
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:56 pm

Slightly off topic but NW f/a's used to joke that they would like to work freighters because strawberries never yell at you! Of course, we never had an f/a on a freighter--except once that I know of.

One night I was supposed to work NW27 NRT-MNL and we had a major mechanical and the flight cancelled. I got back to the hotel, got on the computer to see what damage crew scheds had done to me and I saw that I was scheduled to deadhead on NW9XX the following day NRT-MNL. Now I knew all the flight numbers and the 900 series were freighter flights. Then I looked at the equipment type and it said 74F. I called crew scheduling and asked "is this legal?" They said yes, as long as we were qualified on the 747-200 we could fly as passengers on the freighter. So the next day the other American f/a, the two pilots and myself (the 3rd pilot was already in MNL) were bussed from the terminal out to the freight loading area. We hauled all our luggage up a maintenance ladder and a very happy 2nd officer was there to help us stow our bags securely on the main deck (which was already packed with freight and ready to go), we climbed the retractable stairs to the upper deck and found 8 very nice business class seats, a small galley fully stocked with meals and beverages and the CLEANEST bathroom I had ever seen on a NW airplane! The working crew were just tickled to have real people aboard. "Freighter Dogs" as they were often called could go years at a time without actualy flying passengers. The entire upper deck was open--no locked off cockpit--and we had a great time listening to them tell stories about their flying. Apparently flying pigs around was not pleasant because they said as soon as they got on board, off came the uniforms (to be encassed in heavy plastic) and even their luggage was wrapped. The smell would permeate everything so they just wore old jeans that could be tossed in the wash.

As a special treat the other f/a and I cooked and served all the crew meals and beverages and they were so appreciative of the attention...and we had a blast. The 2nd officer laughed that we had taken away HIS job.
Qualified on Concorde/B707/B720/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/DC-8/DC-9/DC-10/A319/A320/A330/MD-88-90
 
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RE: Why Did DL Terminate The Dedicated 747 NW Cargo?

Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:47 pm

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 19):
Don't forget the A330s when thinking about DL's cargo capacity. Those things are cargo beasts. An A330-300 can handle considerably more belly cargo than a 744 and exactly as much as a 772

Yes, that's a big big deal and DL moves a lot of cargo from NRT and AMS on these birds to and from US locales.
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