Etihad Cargo has begun flying a 777F (39682) on behalf of FedEx, as capacity-hungry express carriers continue to secure any main-deck space they can get.
The aircraft, Etihad’s first 777F delivered in 2011, began its new assignment today, operating its first FedEx flight between Memphis (MEM) and London Stansted (STN) under a FedEx flight number — a route usually flown by one of FedEx’s own MD-11Fs or 777Fs.
Unit 39682 was ferried from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to MEM on Nov. 30 via Dubai (DXB) and Paris (CDG). It had last been in service in late August, and had been idled at AUH since then. It is unclear whether or why the aircraft is not being used for Etihad’s own operations, but we note that Etihad continues to operate its own passenger 777s and 787s on cargo-only flights to supplement the capacity of its five other 777Fs.
Neither FedEx nor Etihad could be reached for clarification on the nature or duration of the arrangement.
While express integrators do purchase belly and main-deck capacity from scheduled combination carriers, it is unusual for them to engage these airlines on an ACMI basis. These operations are usually carried out by all-cargo carriers or charter/ACMI providers.
On that front, with peak season in full swing, freighters operated by a range of carriers are currently busy flying for the integrators, including:
- An Amerijet 767-300BDSF (25195, ex-American Airlines) which began flying from MEM to Viracopos (VCP) for FedEx on Dec. 1;
- Several Atlas Air 747-400Fs flying for FedEx;
- Several Western Global MD-11Fs flying for both FedEx and UPS; and
- A National Airlines 747-400BCF (26547, ex-Cathay Pacific) currently flying for UPS.