Received in email:

From a pilot for FedEx

FedEx still operating close to peak internationally, but we’ve slowed severely domestically.

Balances out financially, as we’re still “above the line” (reference our last quarterly earnings statement).

We’ve pulled 4 “semi-retired” FedEx MD-11s out of the desert and sent them to the Pacific (where I’ve been operating for the past 2 ½ months).

Every run we’re flying there (between Honolulu, Sydney, Guangzhou, Osaka, Narita, Singapore, Thailand,  Hong Kong, etc&hellipWink are maxed out.

No one else flying, so all that residual cargo is being directed our way.  That being said, every route is nearly empty, and every airport is completely full of parked jets.  A couple of examples:

  • Flew from Osaka to Beijing during 1 segment of a trip, and saw only 2 additional aircraft airborne the entire flight.

During the time we fly that route (one of the busiest in the world), nearly 100+ additional aircraft are normally airborne.
Silence on the radio, from the controllers, etc… most pacific airports have 1 controller that now covers regional approach, tower, and ground… ALL 3 of them.
We landed in Beijing and were the only moving aircraft the entire time we taxied in, dropped our cargo, reloaded, and taxied out.
Saw 2 other aircraft moving on the ground as we took off.  But that was it.
Literally 600+ aircraft parked in every square inch of concrete on that airport.
Beijing (and most airports like it) are down to 1 runway, with all additional being used as parking lots for aircraft.  Very eerie to see it like that.

  • Was lucky enough to have a United deadhead back from Osaka to SFO at the conclusion of one of my runs.

Osaka is one of the busiest international “jump-off points” in Japan, and FedEx has a great facility there.
From the time I made my way from the FedEx aircraft we landed there, checked in through one of the largest customs facilities I’ve ever seen (at Osaka International), took an inter-airport train to the international terminal, and finally made my way to the only 1 of 6 lounges open to await my flight’s departure (United), I only saw 2 people in the entire airport terminal.  TWO.
That United flight was on a 787, and Polaris Business Class (which normally holds about 36 people) had 4 of us in it.  The entire aircraft had about 40 people total… most were United employees (aircrew and attendants) repositioning back to the United States after their routes had been cancelled.
This was United’s last flight between Osaka and SFO for a long while (apparently), and there were many hugs and tears with United personnel, Japan airport folks they knew, etc…
And the entire United ground crew lined up in a formation to salute the aircraft as we departed… reminded me of Navy cruises when we were launching aircraft to head back to the beach after 6+ months.
Global devastation and economic impacts are very apparent as one travels as much as we do internationally.

This is going to take YEARS to recover, and return any semblance of “normalcy” (if that term is even relevant any longer) to many areas all over the globe.

Incredible to see the lengths FedEx goes to, to keep us all healthy and protected through this mess.

My hats off to our dispatchers, ground managers, and everyone on the team who’s making it happen safely for us all… as regulations and customs requirements literally change day to day… flight by flight

Safari Woman
this feels surreal but I know it is all too real .... if they replay the pandemic episode one more time in the next ten years the same way they played this one, --- I can't imagine .... praying
  • May 2, 2020
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