Western Global Airlines asks DOT for permission to expand fleet

A white jumbo jet with blue lettering takes off with nose lifted in air.

Contract cargo operator Western Global Airlines has asked the Department of Transportation to lift the cap on the number of planes it can operate so it can expand amid favorable growth conditions for airfreight. 

The Estero, Florida-based company has been operating under DOT authority for seven years, but says its profitability and safety record demonstrate it no longer needs close government monitoring. Customers include express carriers UPS (NYSE: UPS) and DHL, the Postal Service, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), logistics providers, government agencies and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Given that Western Global has been operating very successfully for seven years and meets or exceeds all fitness criteria, the company respectfully submits that a condition limiting its fleet size is no longer necessary. Removal of the condition will help facilitate Western Global’s continued orderly growth and ease the department’s and Western Global’s administrative burdens,” it said in a Sept. 8 filing.

DOT practice is to watch new market entrants for the first five years and limit fleet growth while the carrier’s management and technical personnel gain experience with operations. 

Western Global operates 12 MD-11 and three Boeing 747 converted freighters, but has permission for 19 aircraft in its fleet. The company said it has acquired six more aircraft it plans to deploy once the Federal Aviation Administration completes checks that they conform to Western’s approved operating program. Western owns three other aircraft that are only used as a source for spare parts.

The application also provides a window into the financial performance of the privately held company, which is controlled by the Neff family. Western Global generated $375.5 million in operating revenue last year, up from $241.2 million in operating revenue in 2019 and $253.6 million in 2018. Net income in 2020 soared to $122.4 million last year, compared to $16 million the prior year. 

Western Global’s application for removing fleet limits was first reported by Air Cargo World.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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