Benjamin J

How are cargo flights scheduled?

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Hello all,

Been trying to get some info on this but all I found feel short of expectation. Trying my luck here now ūüėČ

After a long time of vowing not to buy a long haul aircraft for P3Dv4, I finally got the PMDG 747-400 v3. While I like doing long haul, I just don't have the patience for it, and when it all comes down to it, I always end up doing short 1-1.5 hour hops. hence I'd been investing in aircraft that are typically used for those purposes, not 747 or whatever long haul aircraft. Importantly, I enjoy flying real world routes with the actual equipment, so flying a 747 from EDDF to EDDM just for the hell of it doesn't attract me. But then the other day I discovered that Cargolux does ELLX-EHAM, among a bunch of other hops in Europe from ELLX. And, there's some attractive routes in Asia originating from VHHH or RCTP. And so I got the PMDG 747 to do short-medium freight hauling.

But, then I recognized that, actually, it seems like the majority of cargo flights are not even scheduled, meaning it's not recurring daily or weekly. Sometimes one just pops up in FlightRadar24, but there's no repeat to it. Like I saw a Kalitta Air flight the other day out of VHHH which appeared to be a one-off. And that's what my question is about. How are these unscheduled freighter flights... well... scheduled? Especially those by the likes of Kalitta, Polar, Atlas... I'm assuming it's all based on whether there are customers or not, but how do I, in my sim, establish whether a route is likely to be flown by one of these carriers? Or is there some sort of system?

Any insight into how freighter flights are scheduled would be a help, thanks!

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Great post,Benjamin. As I frequently use PMDG's latest 747-400F in Atlas Air livery as I have see that particular cargo freighter many a time. I like the initial FMC+ACARS route planning, aircraft preparation, cargo loading, etc, etc.

Contrary to you, as I do like flying long routes, I use it for my own self-selected routes 3-4000 miles away. So, your post is one that caught my eye as I too would like to know how cargo flights are scheduled.

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Hello,

I can only speak for what I know/see form EWR.

FDX and UPS are scheduled. If you search EWR-IND, EWR-MEM (and vice versa) on FlightAware, you will be able to see a schedule for FedEx. Same with UPS to KSDF, KPHL KRFD etc... Additionally, there is a DHL flight daily out of EWR. During the Christmas season, there are even more options, Including a "wet leased" Atlas 747 carrying UPS freight.

Most of these routes will use widebodies (MD11, MD10s,767, A300s and even 777s) even for routes less than 2 hours. If you're OK with substituting real world widebodies for your 747 8f, and dont mind flying in the US, try it out! 

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a very very good friend of mine works for cargologicair.  they operate on a schedule as do their partner airline air bridge cargo. 

They are currently have 4 A/C,   3 of which are acmi to air bridge and are operating to the USA mainly to ATL,DFW,ORD,LAX and HKG because air bridge are having problems with USA permits and PPR being a Russian carrier and because of traffic rights into HKG

The 4th aircraft does cargologics own rotation of  FRA-STN-ATL-MEX-IAH-FRA-DWC-FRA.  The money here to be made is Pharmaceuticals on the ATL-MEX and the Oil Rig equipment on the IAH-FRA-DWC.

Then there's the real money making charters they do.    These are obtained by whats called a broker.  google Chapman Freeborn for example.  

A client will have a payload that needs delivering and they will go to a broker who will go to the various cargo airlines (and commercial airlines if its viable) each company will give them a price and a plan of what they can offer.  These all goes to the broker who marks it up with a commission and then in turn goes to the client who chooses the best deal from what the various cargo airlines can offer  

Formula One for example pays big bucks.  CLA bid on formula one charters with Silkway and Cargolux as they are really really profitable.  As are militarily contracts. 

Then you have high end car charters for example, Aston Martin for example filling up crates of DB8s to go from the UK to USA and also BMWs from FRA-ATL.  Both again is big big money making charters.

Then you have money runs to Venezuela and Africa. Basically taking printed money from one country (Sri lanka for example will print you money in your countries currency )  or the blank paper for example (from UK) and flying it out to Africa and Venezuela.

One of ways to make money runs profitable is around easter and mothers day in the UK you can fill your 747 up with money, land in Caracas then ferry empty over to Bogota and then fill up with flowers and fly it back into the UK (marks and spencers flowers come from colombia).  The key to cargo is never to have empty legs.  You burn money that way.

Finally you have strange adhoc charters using livestock, pigs is a common one and thoroughbred horses from the USA to Ireland and then down the the middle east,

As someone mentioned above, mail flights.  They are done at christmas for UPS and fedex from Louisville to Cologne and are also massive money makers.

One of the things I find fascinating coming from a commercial airline background is speaking to my mate whos in cargo is they cant cancel flights and they dont have spare aircraft and and crews at base on standbys.  When cargo airlines have aogs they basically have to delay their schedule line of flying by days and days, sometimes weeks.  In commercial aviation the mosy a line of flying with be delayed by is a day, at the most 2.  cargo is another ball game when it comes to delays.

From what my mate says its its touch as hell working in cargo, but seems very interesting and challenging.

 

  

 

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Cargo flights from big cargo companies such as UPS, DHL and Fed Ex are often scheduled. What normally happens is that cargo is delivered to their warehouse at the airport and then awaits to be loaded onto one of those scheduled freight flights. The same happens with incoming freight too, i.e. it is offloaded into their warehouse and then either trucked to a local distribution centre, or it may go onto a smaller regional aircraft to be forwarded to a domestic location elsewhere, where there will be a local distribution warehouse with small vans. In this way, aeroplanes can be used in the most economical way; unless the freight is something which has a time limit upon which its delivery is dependent, the vast majority of cargo will be no worse the wear for having sat around for a day or two, but then again, how many days it might sit there before getting to its destination is what determines the cost of shipping it.

So in principal, freight hauling is not too different from passenger flights, i.e. you might fly on a big Triple Seven to a large hub airport (such as Heathrow or JFK), and then board a smaller aircraft such as an ATR-72 or a 737 to go to your actual final destination in that country, or if it is not too far, you might finish your journey by road on a coach. This is basically what happens with cargo too, except in a truck rather than a coach. So when it comes to both passenger and cargo flights, how quickly or conveniently you get there, is what determines how much the journey costs. This is why we will sometimes see really posh supercars in the cargo warehouse at Manchester, but we'll never see the average family car or some such in there.

You can see the logistics necessary for this in some FSX/P3D sceneries, for example, in UK2000's Liverpool Scenery, there are lots of TNT freight lorries parked up alongside the rear of the airport next to a big cargo facility. Similarly, in Aerosoft's incredibly well-detailed Cologne/Bonn scenery which was released just this week, there is a massive DHL and Fed Ex presence on the airport.

Some cargo is carried on board passenger aeroplanes too. When that happens on flights with the airlines I work for, we usually end up having to either offload the cargo onto ramp agent baggage carts (these carts are basically the same as our normal baggage curtain trailers, except they are in a lot better condition lol), or if we are loading it, it might come to us on a cargo service agent's cart, or it can sometimes come to the aircraft on our own carts, having been collected from the cargo ramp. When it comes from a specialist cargo handler, in most cases for us, that company will be Premier Handling.

All the cargo I work with which is carried in the holds of the passenger aeroplanes, has to be properly secured with tie-down straps and cargo rings, and is placed onto load-spreader boards. That is unless it is in an aeroplane which carries ULDs, in which case it might go into a ULD or it might be secured onto a special metal pallet which can be secured in the hold with a lot of flip up locks built into the cargo hold floor, i.e. in the same way that ULDs are secured. Cargo such as that usually has some manifest paperwork with it too.

It's worth noting here that some cargo items cannot be loaded onto passenger aircraft and have to be carried on a dedicated freight aeroplane. Very occasionally there are some cargo items which cannot be loaded onto an aeroplane at all, for example, there are some unusual paint products which are like this. Of the things which can be loaded onto a passenger aeroplane, it is the case that some airlines will happily carry such things, whereas other will not, for example, among the airlines I work for, SAS will carry hazardous cargo such as radioactive materials on their passenger aircraft, whereas Thomas Cook will not.

One thing which is interesting about this sort of thing, is what happens when we have to take these cargo items to the warehouse facilities. A lot of the time we have to take cargo over to Swissport's warehouse at Manchester. If you know the airport, the cargo warehouses are on the other side of a big fence which stretches along the heads of the stands numbered from 66-71, which is why those stands are where you will most likely see Fed Ex and UPS aeroplanes. That cargo facility is on the land side of the airport, so when we are driving back to the air side of the airport from having been there, we have to park up our vehicle and open it up for inspection at a barrier, and whilst it is being inspected, we have to go through a security check (much like the one you go through as a passenger when boarding an airliner). We pass through a metal detector (which also sniffs for explosives) and anything we are carrying has to go through an x-ray machine, and yes, we have to put cigarette lighters etc in a little plastic bag just like you do when you go on your holiday flight. We will have already been through these checks once already when we arrived for work, but this second check is because we have left the air side when going to the warehouse, and so it is a safeguard against smuggling stuff from the land side warehouse onto the air side part of the airport where we could easily put something onto an aeroplane if we were up to no good.

 

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On some of the virgin routes we make more in cargo than we do in passenger revenue if the yields in "J"  Upper Class are low

 

 

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Sometimes it's a real surprise when you open the hold of a passenger aeroplane to find what is in there cargo-wise...

Quite often, we will offload the front and rear cargo holds at more or less the same time (depending on whether we have two belts available to use and how many of us there are doing it), but you have to be careful not to offload the front first if there is cargo in the rear, since the aeroplane could tip onto its tail if it has a lot of weight in the rear and nothing in the front, but to be fair, there really would have to be a lot of weight in the back to make this happen, so it's just something to be aware of rather than a real major concern.

So most of the time, we offload the rear first, and then when that's done, we move to the front and do that. Nine times out of ten on things like an A320 or a 737, there'll only be a few last minute bags and prams in the front hold, but not always: I went up the conveyor to the front hold of an A321 a few months back, and this was after having chucked loads of bags out of the back hold, so I'm thinking 'nearly done, I'll just throw these few bags off the front', but when I got up there and turned the light on for the front hold, I saw that it was literally full of tires, and I mean big ones too - like really wide low profile ones that go on posh cars with 18 inch wheel rims - there were 60 of them in there in addition to quite a lot of bags too! So you can see that passenger planes do sometimes carry a load of cargo as well.

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Some interesting information here, thanks all... I'm actually surprised to hear that a lot of the bigger companies do seem to have a lot of scheduled flights, as it seems a lot of these can't really be found in FlightRadar24. I don't know if this is for a specific reason (maybe my membership level is to cheap!). Especially your information, Pete, is very valuable to me. Do you have any idea how often such schedules change?

Another thing worth to note is that what I find in Wikipedia does not match what I se eon FlightRadar. I don't know if FlightRadar is missing information, or whether it's somewhat biased because it's showing current schedules, and Wikipedia is a more general resource. Wikipedia may also just be outdated. Does anybody have any insight into that? For example, they have a huge list for cargo airlines in and out of Taipei, but FlightRadar really only shows scheduled flights for China Airlines Cargo as the main scheduled cargo operator out of RTTP.

SKEWR, I knew that UPS and FDX have scheduled flights out of KEWR, but didn't necessarily realize that they employ all those widebodies (I had seen a regular MD11 on FlightRadar though). Interesting that the 747 makes an appearance for Christmas! From what I've been able to track, UPS uses their 747 mostly for KSDF-PANC and then over to Asia (Tokyo, Hong Kong, mostly). Are you saying the 747 also makes appearances at KEWR? That'd be perfect as FSDT gaced us with both KMEM and KSDF...

Alan, as always a ton of fun information. Funny you mention Liverpool. I've been trying to figure out what the big cargo hubs are for Europe (the US and Asia have been a little more obvious). The main problem is that major European airports are not necessarily major cargo hubs. For example, while Amsterdam and Paris seem to be important cargo hubs, Heathrow seems to see less such traffic, and Rome, comparatively, has nothing going on at all. Intriguingly, form what I could see, Stansted is unusually important with respect to its cargo traffic. And in the Netherlands, a tiny little airport such as Maastricht/Aachen sees a lot of heavy cargo traffic passing by, given it's otherwise such a small airport. Other cargo hubs I identified are Luxembourg (that one was obvious), Leipzig, Cologne, Liege, Milan (?), Istanbul... Some smaller ones seem to be Glasgow Prestwick, East Midlands... Of course I'm mostly talking here about the airports that handle the 747 freighters. There are tons of airports that take smaller cargo planes (757F, 737F, etc). Alan, do you have any insight as to the cargo hubs of the UK?

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2 hours ago, Benjamin J said:

Intriguingly, form what I could see, Stansted is unusually important with respect to its cargo traffic. And in the Netherlands, a tiny little airport such as Maastricht/Aachen sees a lot of heavy cargo traffic passing by, given it's otherwise such a small airport. Other cargo hubs I identified are Luxembourg (that one was obvious), Leipzig, Cologne, Liege, Milan (?), Istanbul... Some smaller ones seem to be Glasgow Prestwick, East Midlands... Of course I'm mostly talking here about the airports that handle the 747 freighters. There are tons of airports that take smaller cargo planes (757F, 737F, etc). Alan, do you have any insight as to the cargo hubs of the UK?

In my observations Stansted does have more cargo, Heathrow seems to be more pax-oriented.

I know that Fedex flies from KMEM to Stansted pretty regularly, if not scheduled.

I also know that now-defunct Miami-based cargo carrier Arrow Air used to fly certain scheduled routes, but then would also fly charters.  For example at Christmas UPS would subcontract with Arrow, to fly KMIA to KSDF, and on whatever overflow routing out of SDF they needed to help with the rush.  Their scheduled valuable routes -- as mentioned earlier in this thread -- would be to carry things like fresh flowers from South America, up to KMIA.  For those they had pretty regular routings to places like SVBG and more obscure places like SBEG.  They also flew a couple of times a week from KMIA to MPTO, and then up to MROC / MNMG / MHLM / MGGT and back to KMIA.

MPTO is a pretty decently-sized cargo hub in Central America.  The entire old half of the airport is dedicated to cargo.  A big South American cargo airport you may not know about is SBKP -- Viracopos.

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The basic type of cargo operators in the US are Scheduled 121, Non-Scheduled 121 and ACMI.  

Grace and Peace,

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9 hours ago, Benjamin J said:

SKEWR, I knew that UPS and FDX have scheduled flights out of KEWR, but didn't necessarily realize that they employ all those widebodies (I had seen a regular MD11 on FlightRadar though). Interesting that the 747 makes an appearance for Christmas! From what I've been able to track, UPS uses their 747 mostly for KSDF-PANC and then over to Asia (Tokyo, Hong Kong, mostly). Are you saying the 747 also makes appearances at KEWR? That'd be perfect as FSDT gaced us with both KMEM and KSDF...

From a FDX standpoint I'd say 75% of it is from wide body traffic. At night you'll see a gang of 757s, but the other times it's, daily, MD11s, 767s and A300s. On rare occasions you will see a MD10 and/or a 777. From a prop standpoint there are several C208s (Mountain Air I think, using the FDX liveries) and at night ATRs.

UPS isn't as prevalent at EWR, especially with them being moved from the South terminal to the North Terminal (they are reconstructing/expanding Terminal A) at EWR. That said, UPS still flies in 767s, MD11s and A300s. Last Christmas they certainly did use Atlas Air for their freight. (Love that livery). UPS 747s are rare but they do show up for the holidays on occasion.

DHL only flies a 767 out of EWR, "Cargo "Jet" flies a 727 daily from BDA. That's right! A 727!

All in all, if you want to fly the heavies or the odd turbo prop, EWR is not a bad spot!

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On 11/16/2018 at 8:58 PM, Benjamin J said:

Alan, do you have any insight as to the cargo hubs of the UK?

Well, as I say, I don't actually work on dedicated cargo aeroplanes at Manchester, I just come across cargo from time to time when cargo is on passenger airlines. But I do know cargo is a big part of operations there. Some more info about that can be had from this link, and if you want me to ask about something specific, I can certainly try to find stuff out for you: https://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/about-us/cargo/

I will tell you an interesting one which occurred the other night though concerning cargo, which resulted in me having to write out an incident report at work last night. We were doing a spin (that's a 25 minute turnaround) on a SAS Boeing 737 on Stand 24 a couple of evenings ago, and we knew there were some hazardous goods (Class 2 Radioactive Materials) on board, specifically, there were four radioactive cans listed on the cargo manifest. So when prepping the stand for the aeroplane's arrival, we knew there were approximately sixty bags coming off the plane (not a lot of bags, but there rarely are on SAS 737s at this time of year), plus the hazardous cargo, plus a few other non hazardous bits of cargo, so as we would normally do, we parked two curtain trailers for the bags on the interstand clearway with an EBT towing them (we estimate one baggage cart for every forty bags), plus another EBT towing a specialised hazardous goods cart (these are bright yellow-painted locakble secure steel box containers a bit smaller than a regular curtain trailer, and they usually have a load of information stickers on their ends listing the various hazardous goods classes along with the symbols for those different classes). And of course we parked up two belt loaders as well so we could do the front and the rear at the same time, because 25 mins is not a lot of time to unload an aeroplane, tip the bags, then get back out to it, load it up, then attach a bar and tug do a walkaround check and then push the thing out (we usually get it done with about 5 mins to spare).

GSX users might be interested to know that SAS have a different headset procedure for pushbacks to most other airlines. With  most airlines, when you've done the walkaround check and you contact the flight deck on the headset proir to pushing out, you say something like: 'walkaround completed, all hatches closed and secured, all ground equipment clear of the aircraft, bypass pin inserted', but on SAS airliners, you say: 'walkaround completed, all equipment clear, no findings, bypass pin inserted'. Just kind of interesting to know that some airlines are different in odd ways.

The offloaded bags would of course go onto the normal trailers and then into the bag hall to go on the carousel, but the hazardous goods cart would go over to cargo to be checked out by the cargo security people (since it is an import of some dangerous goods). Once things are checked out, we then have to move them from the security bit to the warehouse. Now when I say radioactive cans, I don't mean cans in the sense of the slang term we use for the big ULD containers, radioactive container cans are literally cans which look a bit like like an oversized paint tin, i.e. they are cylindrical metal containers which are about 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches tall, bare metal coloured, but with lots of radioactive warning stickers on them. They have a sealed lid which has a small padlocked latch on the edge of the tin lid. They are very heavy because they are lined with lead in order to prevent radioactive emissions leakage.

Keep in mind that pretty much all heavy cargo, and especially hazardous stuff carried in an airliner, has to be placed on wooden spreader board planks in order to distribute the weight over a larger area of the floor and provide more friction to prevent it moving, and it has to be strapped down, either with rope attached to cargo rings clipped to the floor of the cargo hold, or more often with cargo straps, which have a ratchet to tighten them up and the securing rings already attached to their ends. There are a lot of rules about this kind of thing, since you don't want cargo shifting position in flight as it can cause a crash, like this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lksDISvCmNI

Anyway to explain what occurred, I had jumped up into the rear hold of the 737 to start offloading its bags. SAS 737s have what is called a 'magic carpet' loading system, where the floor is basically a rubber conveyor belt and there is a movable forward bulkhead, there is a control panel in the ceiling of the cargo hold with a toggle switch to operate it in forward and reverse. Normally this means one person can load or unload the hold on their own, since to load the thing up you simply move the forward bulkhead and the floor toward you at the cargo door, and when the bags come up the belt to you, you stack a row of bags against the bulkhead (usually about ten or so suitcases), then you press a button on the control panel and the entire floor and the bulkhead moves forwards toward the wing. Then you stop it and load another row of bags, then rinse and repeat. When you're done, you make sure the magic carpet is moved fully forward into the wing (to ensure the weight is near the CoG), then fasten up the cargo nets, climb out and shut the cargo door and you're done, and obviously to unload, you reverse the process.

So anyway, I had unloaded a row of bags from the hold of this SAS 737, and doing that, I revealed that a radioactive can had been placed in amongst the normal passenger bags in the second row down and worse, since it was on the rubber conveyor floor, it was not secured down at all (it should have been in the front hold with the other three cans, as per the load plan). This is not a very safe thing to do obviously, one because of the weight and two because of it not being secured properly, and three, although it's perfectly safe in terms of emissions, I'm sure passengers would not like the idea of a radioactive container using their suitcases propped up around it, to prevent it from falling over and rolling around the cargo hold lol.

So we had to file a report to the crew of the aeroplane and since it was me who made the discovery, I had to fill out a statement last night about the incident (much like you would do for a police report). I should imagine someone on the ramp in Oslo, where the aeroplane originated its flight from, is going to get in trouble about that, and rightly so for not taking their responsibilities seriously. You can get a very big prison sentence in most countries for endangering an aircraft.

 

Edited by Chock

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the main cargo hubs in UK 

STANSTED - DUE TRUCKING LOCATIONS IN SOUTH OF UK 

EAST MIDLANDS - DUE TRUCKING LOCATIONS IN MID AND NORTH OF THE UK AND THE INDUSTRY FACTORY IN THE MIDLANDS

DONCASTER - DUE TO REMOTE LOCATION AND SECURITY (MONEY RUNS/MILTARY ARE DONE FROM HERE)

Manchester not so much as its slot controlled 

Until i met my mate from cargologicair i was clueless about cargo but I now find it fascinating.  They are maxed out at the minute carrying rolls royce engines to and from Seattle for operators having issues with them,  They also have the contract for Tesla Cars+Space X moving factory parts from Milan to San Fran and as well as a big contract with bmw moving cars to and from FRA-ATL.  The 5th 747s coming next year with 777s not far away, although the rumour is they will go to ABC.  ABC/CLA seem to want to take on Cargolux and silkway. How clever that is I dont know. 

As for schedules they do the same as anyone else with a winter and summer schedule, you HAVE to do this to apply for seasonal slots, traffic rights, historical slots, and forth freedoms.  Its amazing how much goes into this.  The charters are one offs which they get adhoc slots and ppr for

I was at the slot conference last week in Madrid¬†¬†https://www.iata.org/events/sc143/Pages/index.aspx¬†¬†to hammer it out with Gatwick as they are going to open up 26R/8L for departures only , (but with a shed load of restrictions.¬† IE the landing a/c on 26L has to be on the¬†roll out with spoliers up before they can clear the a/c on 26R to take off¬†for example.¬† (did know that did you armchair experts ūüôā )¬†

anyways whilst my team where networking with Gatwick (thrashing it out as normal) to get our historical slots (remember the blue Spanish mafia from waterside took all the old monarch slots corruptly as normal with no negotiation) my mate from CLA was 4 tables down hammering it out with FRA to get some more slots out of them (with no joys) such is the nature of scheduling. 

As ive said before theres a whole world of pain when it comes to scheduling and seasonal / historical slots and 4th freedom and the amount of night landings you can bid for etc etc ,  its a world away from firing up pfpx and then away you go. 

 

Edited by tooting

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On 11/17/2018 at 4:01 AM, Bluestar said:

The basic type of cargo operators in the US are Scheduled 121, Non-Scheduled 121 and ACMI.  

Grace and Peace,

correct

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Some great info here once again. So it seems like with Stansted I got the cargo covered quite well. East Midlands seems very big for TNT, for which currently I have zero airplanes or AI, so I'll probably skip it for now.

Thanks all, I think I've got what I needed!

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TNT=FedEx now

47 minutes ago, Benjamin J said:

big for TNT, for which currently I have zero airplanes or AI,

FedEx doing the routes from EU to US. Not sure what's going on with EU domestic ex TNT routes.

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