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FedEx Express is a cargo airline based in Memphis, Tennesseemarker, USAmarker. It is the world's largest airline in terms of aircraft and in terms of freight tons flown. It is a subsidiary of FedEx Corporation and delivers packages and freight to more than 375 destinations in nearly every country each day.

Its headquarters are in Memphis with its global "SuperHub" located at Memphis International Airportmarker; with regional hubs at Indianapolis International Airportmarker, Fort Worth Alliance Airportmarker, Oakland International Airportmarker, Newark Liberty International Airportmarker, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airportmarker, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airportmarker, Toronto Pearson International Airportmarker, and Miami International Airportmarker. FedEx Express has hubs under construction at Piedmont Triad International Airportmarker and Cologne Bonn Airportmarker.


Early history

FedEx Express was founded as Federal Express by Fred Smith in Little Rock, Arkansasmarker in 1971. After a lack of support from the Little Rock National Airportmarker, Smith moved the company to Memphis, Tennesseemarker and the Memphis International Airportmarker in 1973.

The company started overnight operations on April 17 1973 with fourteen Dassault Falcon 20s that connected twenty-five cities in the United Statesmarker. Services included both overnight and two-day package and envelope delivery services, as well as Courier Pak. Federal Express began to market itself as "the freight service company with 550-mile-per-hour delivery trucks". However, the company began to experience financial difficulties, and when it was unable to get a loan Smith flew to Las Vegasmarker and won $27,000 at the black jack tables to keep the company afloat.

Federal Express installed its first drop box in 1975 which allowed customers to drop off packages without going to a company local branch. In 1976, the company became profitable with an average volume of 19,000 parcels per day.

Rapid growth

The 1977 Airline Deregulation Act (Public Law 95-163) removed restrictions on the routes operated by all-cargo airlines, and enabled Federal Express to purchase its first large aircraft: seven Boeing 727s. In 1978, the company went public and was listed on The New York Stock Exchangemarker. The following year it became the first shipping company to use a computer to manage packages when it launched “COSMOS” (Customers, Operations and Services Master Online System), a centralized computer system to manage people, packages, vehicles and weather scenarios in real time. In 1980 the company implemented “DADS” (Digitally Assisted Dispatch System) to coordinate on-call pickups for customers; this system allows customers to schedule pickups for the same day.

In 1980, Federal Express began service to a further 90 cities in the United States. The following year the company introduced the overnight letter, and allowed document shipping for the first time. Later in 1981 it started international operations with service to Canada, and officially opened its “SuperHub” at the Memphis International Airportmarker.

Federal Express' sales topped $1 billion for the first time in 1983. In the same year the company introduced ZapMail, a fax service that guaranteed the delivery of up to five pages in less than two hours for $35. ZapMail would later become a huge failure for the company, costing it hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 1986, the company introduced the “SuperTracker”, a hand-held bar code scanner which brought parcel tracking to the shipping industry for the first time. Federal Express continued its rapid expansion in the late 1980s, and opened its hub at Newark Liberty International Airportmarker in 1986 and at Indianapolis International Airportmarker and Oakland International Airportmarker in 1988. In 1989, the company acquired Flying Tiger Line to expand its international service, and subsequently opened a hub at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airportmarker to accommodate this new, expanded service. As the volume of international shipments increased, Federal Express created Clear Electronic Customs Clearance System to expedite regulatory clearance while cargo is en route.

FedEx era

A FedEx Express delivery truck, showing the dual branding, both "FedEx" and "Federal Express" that the company used from 1994 to 2000

In 1994, Federal Express adopted the "FedEx" name, formalizing the abbreviation that until then was unofficial. Also that year, FedEx launched as the first transportation web site to offer online package tracking, which allowed customers to conduct business via the internet. In 1995, the company acquired air routes from Evergreen International to start services to China, and opened an Asia and Pacific hub in Subic Bay International Airportmarker in the Philippinesmarker. In 1997 FedEx opened its hub at Fort Worth Alliance Airportmarker and in 1999 opened a European hub at Charles de Gaulle International Airportmarker in Francemarker. In 2000, the company officially dropped the “Federal Express” name and became “FedEx Express” to distinguish its express shipping service from others offered by its parent company FedEx Corporation.

In 2001, FedEx Express signed a 7-year contract to transport Express Mail and Priority Mail for the United States Postal Service. This contract allowed FedEx to place drop boxes at every USPS post office, and has recently been extended until September 2013. USPS continues to be the largest customer of FedEx Express.

In December 2006, FedEx Express acquired the British courier company ANC Holdings Limited for £120 million. The acquisition added 35 sort facilities to the FedEx network and the company introduced Newark, Memphis, and Indianapolis routes directly to UK airports instead of stopping at FedEx's European hub at Charles De Gaulle Airport. In September 2007, ANC was rebranded as FedEx UK. FedEx Express also acquired Flying-Cargo Hungary Kft to expand service in Eastern Europe.

Economic downturn

The Late-2000s recession and the Financial crisis of 2007–2009 hit parent company FedEx Corporation and its express division hard. Many companies looking for ways to save money stopped shipping or moved to cheaper alternatives, such as surface shipping. FedEx Corporation announced large network capacity reductions at FedEx Express, inculding retiring some of its oldest and inefficient aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Airbus A310. FedEx also announced layoffs and work hour reductions at some of its hubs.

In December 2008, FedEx postponed delivery of the new Boeing 777 Freighter, four will be delivered in 2010 as previously agreed, but in 2011, FedEx will only take delivery of four, rather than the 10 originally planned. The remaining aircraft will be delivered in 2012 and 2013.

FedEx Express closed a hub for the first time in its history, when operations at its Asian-Pacific hub at Subic Bay International Airport ceased on February 6, 2009. The operations were transferred to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airportmarker in southern China.
FedEx Express had planned to open the new Chinese hub in December 2008 but in November 2008, the company delayed the opening until early 2009 citing the need to fully test the new hub.

On June 2, 2009, FedEx opened the new hub building at Piedmont Triad International Airportmarker in Greensboro, North Carolinamarker. FedEx announced in December 2008, that it still intended to open the building on time, despite the bad economy. The hub's operations would be scaled back from 1,500 employees to only 160, the size of the previous operations at the much smaller sorting facilty. FedEx gave no timeline as to when the hub will be operating at expected hub levels.The hub had been delayed many years since FedEx first picked the airport to be its Mid-Atlantic U.S. hub back in 1998. FedEx had to fight many complaints from nearby homeowners about the anticipated noise generated by its aircraft, because most of its flights take place at night. A third runway was built to accommodate the hub operation and the extra aircraft.

Future plans

In 2008, FedEx Express broke ground on its Central and Eastern European hub at Cologne Bonn Airportmarker which is due for completion in 2010. The Cologne hub will incorporate a 1.4-megawatt solar power system.


The FedEx Express fleet consists of the following aircraft as of September 22, 2009
FedEx Express fleet
Aircraft Total Notes
Airbus A300-600 71
Airbus A310-200/300 54 Exiting service: 8 in 2010, 3 in 2011, 3 in 2012
Boeing 727-200 77 Exiting service:
4 in 2010, 9 in 2011, 17 in 2012, 13 in 2013, 20 in 2014, 11 in 2015
Replacement aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Fitted with hush kits

Boeing 757-200 30
(30 used orders)
Entering service: 6 in 2010, 16 in 2011, 8 in 2012
Replacing Boeing 727-200
Boeing 777 Freighter 1
(29 orders)
(15 options)

Entry into service: 2009-2019
Entering service: 4 in 2010, 4 in 2011, 3 in 2012, 3 in 2013, 3 in 2014, 3 in 2015
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 5 Exiting service: 5 in 2010
McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10 58
McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30 12
(5 used orders)
Entering service: 5 in 2010
Exiting service: 1 in 2012, 2 in 2013, 3 in 2014
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 59
ATR 42-300/320 26 Operated as FedEx Feeder
ATR 72-200 13 Operated as FedEx Feeder
Cessna Caravan 208A 10 Operated as FedEx Feeder
Cessna Caravan 208B 242 Operated as FedEx Feeder

FedEx Express operates the world's largest civil fleet with 658 aircraft, and is the largest operator of the Airbus A300, Airbus A310, ATR 42, Boeing 727, Cessna 208, McDonnell Douglas DC-10/MD-10, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. The company took delivery of the last Boeing 727 built in September 1984 and the last A300/A310 built in July 2007. To be able to respond to changing freight demand quickly, FedEx Express tends to keep a number of empty planes in the air.

In 2007, FedEx revealed plans to acquire 90 Boeing 757-200s. Because production ended in 2005, FedEx was left with no choice but to acquire secondhand aircraft from other airlines at a cost of US$2.6 billion to replace its aging Boeing 727 fleet. The 757's debut for revenue service was on May 28, 2008.

FedEx Express was to have been the launch airline for the Airbus A380 freighter, having ordered ten for delivery between 2008 and 2011 with options on ten more. The company had planned to introduce the first aircraft into service in August 2008 for use on routes between hubs in the United States and Asia. Faced with A380 delays of more than two years, FedEx canceled these orders and replaced them with an order for fifteen Boeing 777 freighters with an option for fifteen more, to be delivered from 2009 through 2011. FedEx has said that Airbus will allow it to transfer its nonrefundable deposits to purchases of future aircraft, and has stated it may consider the A380F when the A380 program is less affected by construction delays. In December 2008, FedEx postponed delivery of some of the 777s: four will be delivered in 2010 as previously agreed, but 2011 deliveries will be only four, rather than the 10 originally planned. Five more will arrive in 2012, and two in 2013. In January 2009, FedEx exercised its options to buy 15 more 777 freighters and acquired options for a further 15.

With the world's biggest fleet, FedEx Express is the largest member of the United States Civil Reserve Air Fleet in terms of aircraft pledged.

The very first Dassault Falcon 20C delivered to FedEx (N8FE) is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museummarker at the Smithsonian Institutionmarker.

FedEx Feeder

FedEx Feeder is the branding applied to all FedEx Express propeller aircraft which feed packages to and from airports served by larger jet aircraft.

In the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, FedEx Express operates FedEx Feeder on a damp lease program where the contractor will lease the aircraft from FedEx fleet and provide a crew to operate the aircraft solely for FedEx. All of the feeder aircraft operated in the United States and Canada are owned by FedEx and because of this; all of the aircraft are in the FedEx Feeder livery. Just like regional airlines, the contractor will operate the aircraft with their own flight number and call sign.

Outside of the United States, the contractor will supply their own aircraft, which may or may not be in the FedEx Feeder livery. Depending on the arrangement with FedEx, the contractor may be able to carry cargo for other companies with the FedEx cargo.

List of contract carriers:

Environmental initiatives

Delivery fleet

In 2003, FedEx Express introduced hybrid electric/diesel trucks into its fleet. At the time the company had hoped to replace its entire 30,000 W700 delivery truck fleet with the hybrid, but in June 2009 only 170 were on the road. Ninety-three of these operate in the United Statesmarker in New Yorkmarker, Tampamarker, Sacramentomarker and Washington, D.C.marker; the rest operate in Tokyomarker, Torontomarker, and Turinmarker. FedEx blamed the low number on a lack of investment from other major companies in hybrid technology. It had hoped that other companies would order hybrid trucks, and that tax credits would be issued by the United Statesmarker government to reduce the cost.

FedEx claimed that the hybrid truck in the 2003 test decreases soot by 96 percent and emissions by 65 percent. It also claimed that the truck gets more than 50% better gas mileage while still having the same cargo capacity as a conventional truck.

In 2009, FedEx Express partnered with Iveco and started a new test program of hybrid electric/diesel vans. The test program will consist of 10 hybrid vans deployed in Milanmarker and Turinmarker, Italymarker. FedEx claims the new vans will have a 26.5% reduction in fuel consumption and a decrease in CO2 emissions of 7.5 tons when compared to FedEx's standard vehicle. The trial will continue until May 2010 and after the program's conclusion, FedEx will evaluate if the vans should be deployed on a larger scale.

In July 2009, FedEx Express partnerd with Freightliner and Eaton Corporation to convert 92 delivery trucks into hybrids. The conversions boosted FedEx’s fleet of hybrid-electric vehicle by more than 50 percent to 264. The trucks were placed into service in Los Angelesmarker, San Diegomarker and San Franciscomarker.

In November 2009, FedEx Express purchased 51 gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles from Azure Dynamics. The new trucks will be put into service in The Bronxmarker, New York Citymarker. The Bronx will be FedEx's first all hybrid station. The addition will bring FedEx Express’ fleet of hybrid electric and electric vehicles to 325.

Air fleet

FedEx Express has set a goal of getting 30 percent of its jet fuel from petroleum alternatives by 2030.

FedEx is currently in the process of phasing out Boeing 727s for its fleet in favor of newer Boeing 757s, the airline says the 757s are 47 percent more fuel-efficient. FedEx will soon switch from MD-11s to Boeing 777s for its long-range, international routes, freeing up the MD-11 fleet to fly shorter routes currently flown by the DC-10.

Major incidents and accidents

Northrop Grumman Guardian

In 2003 FedEx Express partnered with the Department of Homeland Securitymarker and Northrop Grumman to develop and flight test an anti-missile system, the Northrop Grumman Guardian. It is intended that this system could be deployed on commercial airliners to protect them from terrorist attacks such as the 2003 Baghdad DHL attempted shootdown incident. FedEx supplied a MD-11 and a leased 747 for the flight test phase.

FedEx Express became the first air carrier to deploy the Guardian on a commercial flight in September, 2006, when they equipped a MD-10 freighter with the pod. The company currently has nine aircraft equipped with the system for further testing and evaluation. Because of the program's success, the US Congress directed DHS to extend it to passenger-carrying aircraft.

See also


  1. FedEx Express Facts
  2. Piedmont Triad International Airport
  4. FedEx Timeline | About FedEx
  5. FedEx Express | About FedEx
  6. Usps News Release: U.S. Postal Service, Fedex Express Agree To New Contract For Air Transportation Of Mail
  7. FedEx - About FedEx - Press Releases
  13. PTIA Greensboro Airport Construction Projects
  17. The End of Aviation - What will happen when America can't afford to fly? - The New Republic, Post Date Friday 16 August 2008
  18. FedEx to spend $2.6 billion to replace its fleet of 727s -
  19. FedEx Cancels Its Airbus A380 Order
  33. ASN Aircraft accident description
  34. ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N611FE Newark International Airport, NJ (EWR)
  35. ASN Aircraft accident description McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N581FE - Subic Bay International Airport (SFS)
  36. AirDisaster.Com: Accident Photo: FedEx Flight 1478 (2)
  37. DCA04MA011
  38. ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10F N391FE Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM)
  39. Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety Database > Operator index > United States of America > FedEx
  40. Cargo plane crash lands in Japan
  41. "The Department of Homeland Security C-MANPADS Program", Northrop Grumman
  42. Northrop Grumman - Article Four

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