A sunset arrival for the Ketchikan Express. Every afternoon Empire Airlines flies an ATR from the isolated south Alaskan community of Ketchikan to FedEx’s facility at Seatac. Ketchikan is Alaska’s fifth largest city, but still only has a population of about 8,000 residents.
N821FX (msn: 253) is a converted ATR-72-202 built in 1991 for American Eagle. At various times it was operated by Eagle affiliates Simmons Airlines and Executive Airlines before being converted into a freighter in 2007. It had previously received updates to turn it into a 72-212.
Originally started as charter company called Clearwater Flying Service (Empire’s flight still carry the “CFS” prefix), Empire Airlines became a key part of FedEx Express in 1988, signing a contract to fly Cessna 208s into Portland for FedEx. Seattle was added a year later to that operation. Today it operates around 120 flights a day, mostly in the western states and western Canada. It operates 33 C208 Super Cargomasters, eleven ATR-42s, three ATR-72s, and a single C208 Caravan. Empire was the first FedEx Feeder operator to use an ATR on a revenue flight, back in 2004.
Photographer: Alex Kwanten