Flexport’s own-controlled 747F service ends

Unit 36135 was painted in August 2019. (Photo: Flexport)

Flexport will be terminating its own-controlled 747-400F operation on Jan. 25. From that day onward, the forwarder will instead be moving to an asset-light model, having entered into a series of block space agreement with Plus Logistics, wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA).

Flexport told Cargo Facts that, while the move was part of a longer-term plan, it was brought forward and the agreement with NCA for the dedicated private freighter service had to be terminated earlier than expected because of worsening market conditions and diversifying freight patterns in response to the U.S.-China trade tensions. Specifically, Flexport is now turning to Southeast Asia, where its clients’ year-on-year volumes from Vietnam grew by double digits, while those from the Philippines increased by triple-digit percentages.

Flexport currently has a single dedicated 747 (36135), which was reactivated by NCA in June 2019 and repainted into Flexport’s colors in August. The aircraft is being operated by Atlas Air on a Hong Kong (HKG)-Anchorage (ANC)-Los Angeles (LAX)-Honolulu (HNL)-HKG routing. From Jan. 25, Flexport will hold block space agreements on NCA 747 flights from HKG, Shanghai (PVG), Bangkok (BKK), Singapore (SIN) and Taipei (TPE) to LAX, Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Dallas (DFW), New York (JFK) and Amsterdam (AMS).

Flexport had previously engaged Western Global Airlines (WGA) to carry out its own-controlled freighter service with a 747-400BCF, but terminated that agreement and switched its operator to Atlas Air in July 2019. The forwarder’s dedicated 747 network consisted of a twice-weekly flight from HKG to LAX and another weekly HKG to ORD flight, but the ORD rotation appears to have been replaced with another LAX flight since December 2019.

Unit 36135, which will be stripped of its Flexport branding, and two other 747-400Fs (36132 and 36133) are all operated by Atlas Air as part of an expanded CMI agreement with NCA, which at the end of 2018 set up Plus Logistics specifically to market the capacity of these aircraft to customers such as Flexport.

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