A 747-400F (36135) has just been painted in Flexport’s colors and will be entering service for the forwarder’s own-controlled airfreight operation on Aug. 25, flying from Chicago (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG), Flexport confirmed to Cargo Facts [FAT 005103].
Unit 36135 is one of the three 747-400Fs recently reactivated by Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA), having been in maintenance at the Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp. (EGAT) facility in Taipei (TPE) from 11 June to 6 August 2019. It was then painted in Amarillo (AMA) and arrived in Los Angeles (LAX) this Tuesday. The Flexport-branded 747 departed LAX early this morning and is currently over the Pacific.
Unit 36135, along with units 36132 and 36133, are operated by Atlas Air, as part of an expanded CMI agreement with NCA, which at the end of last year set up a subsidiary called Plus Logistics Solutions specifically to market the capacity of these aircraft to customers such as Flexport.
Flexport had previously engaged Western Global Airlines (WGA) to carry out its own-controlled freighter service but terminated that agreement and switched its operator to Atlas Air last month, utilizing another Atlas-operated NCA 747-400F (34283) to fly from HKG to LAX on Mondays and Thursdays, and from HKG to ORD on Saturdays, all via Anchorage (ANC). On Wednesdays and Fridays, unit 34283 returns from LAX to HKG via Honolulu (HNL). Flexport told Cargo Facts that a block space agreement is held on these westbound legs by Hawaii-based startup Air Hawaii Cargo, which launched a twice-weekly 747-400F LAX-HNL-HKG service from 31 July.
When unit 36135 begins flying for Flexport this Sunday, it will presumably take over from unit 34283, which is currently on its way from HKG to ANC, flying the Thursday Flexport service to LAX.
Last summer, NCA was forced to ground its entire operating fleet of three 747-400Fs and eight 747-8Fs when the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau discovered inconsistencies in the carrier’s maintenance records. The incident prompted NCA to focus its own operations and maintenance on the 747-8F platform, handing over the remaining three -400Fs to Atlas.
[An earlier version version of this story said that Plus appeared to have added Air Hawaii Cargo as a new customer for twice-weekly LAX-HNL-HKG flights from 31 July, and that both agreements have been operated by unit 34283. Flexport has since clarified that Air Hawaii Cargo is in fact a BSA holder on its flights rather than a new Plus customer.]