Air Transport World

American Airlines still interested in air freight.

American Airlines still interested in air freight

The final flight of the last of its six Boeing 747 freighters on Dec. 16, 1984, was "not the end' of its 60-year involvement with air cargo, says American Airlines, "but a beginning' toward meshing the air freight portion of its business more profitably into the kind of airline it has become since deregulation.

Even though the sale of its 747Fs to United Parcel Service left American without freighters for the first time since 1944--when it became the first U.S. airline to operate scheduled domestic air cargo service--"American Airlines is not getting out of the freight business,' VP-freight marketing Martin F. Brueckner told ATW.

Rather, it is recognizing the reality that it is no longer a long-haul airline, and that the hub-and-spoke system it has created over the past five years "is singularly unsuitable for 747s.' Reorganization of its freight services was completed Jan. 1, and its marketeers are now trying to get across the message that American is "committed to serving the smaller shipper and meeting his needs with our extensive belly capacity' in McDonnell Douglas DC-10s and MD-80s and Boeing 767s.

Says Brueckner, "The perception among shippers is that passenger carriers don't care about freight. We're out to change that perception' with products like sameday delivery and door-to-door service.

Cargo beginning

But the disappearance of freighters from its fleet was not without trauma for an airline that traces its very origins to air cargo--specifically, to the flight from Chicago to St. Louis on April 15, 1926, of a de Havilland DH-4 carrying a sack of mail. The pilot of that historic flight was Charles A. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.