Southern Air Banks on the Boeing 777F

Dan McHugh, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky, USA-based Southern Air, is rightly proud of his new fleet of Boeing 777F aircraft.
When speaking with CargoForwarder Global at this year’s Air Cargo Europe, Dan and his European manager, Oliver Gritz, gave us some insight into the present fortunes of Southern Air.

Boeing 777 freighter of Southern Air  /  courtesy 9S
Boeing 777 freighter of Southern Air / courtesy 9S

The all cargo carrier, which is certified under U.S. FAA part 121 as a Supplemental Cargo Carrier, has quite a colourful history behind it.
Originally founded back in 1999 as Southern Air Transport who used to fly Hercules transporters, it has moved up to being proud owner of a modern Boeing 777F fleet.

It’s not been an easy road for the American carrier
They have seen many of their U.S.-based all cargo competitors bite the dust over the past decade or so.
But, Southern is still there and has apparently found a lucrative operating niche which it is hoped will keep them in business for a long time to come.

Southern Air, even back in the days when they operated Boeing 747-200Fs were well known as a so-called long-term ACMI operator.
A majority share of the airline was taken by the U.S.-based Oak Hill Capital which on takeover also merged Southern Air with Cargo 360.
The company acquired its first two Boeing 777Fs in 2010 along with introducing a new corporate branding.
The airline, which is also part of the American Department of Defense’s “Civil Reserve Air Fleet,” entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of 2012.
However, U.S. ruling ensured that they could continue operations.

CEO Dan McHugh of Southern Air
CEO Dan McHugh of Southern Air

DHL is since 2011 Southern Air’s main customer
All four of their Boeing 777Fs are out on lease to DHL to support flights from their hubs in Cincinnati, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Anchorage.
The last remaining Boeing 747-200/300 series freighters were retired from the fleet in 2011.
The Triple-Seven fleet according to Dan McHugh operate an average of 465 hours per aircraft, per month.
He has placed options on a further five aircraft of the same type along with a possible B767F acquisition, in anticipation of new business and new customers in the future.
At the moment the carrier has its hands full serving DHL.

Southern’s fleet stands presently at four 777Fs and five 737-400SF aircraft.
The Boeing 737s being used solely on U.S. domestic routes.

Dan McHugh and his team are content with the way things are developing for the carrier at the present time and look forward to expanding “moderately” in the near future.

John Mc Donagh

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