February 1 marks a major milestone for UPS Airlines — 25 years since our first flight on our own operating certificate. The airline set the stage for our worldwide expansion, starting with a single DC-8 flight from Louisville to Milwaukee.
The launch of the airline marked a significant change for UPS. Long-known for dependable delivery of packages across the United States, air operations enabled us to expand internationally. Now we serve more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, and UPS aircraft are a familiar sight at airports across the globe.
A little more than a year after we announced our airline plans, UPS had transitioned 92 aircraft onto that certificate — the fastest startup of an airline in FAA history.
“The startup of the airline is remarkable in itself,” UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols said. “Although UPS had owned aircraft since the early 1980s, they were operated by a series of contractor airlines. As flight operations grew, that network became more difficult to manage.”
Starting with an initial fleet of 92 DC-8s, 727s and 747s, the airline added bigger, more efficient aircraft to handle growing volume, retiring the legacy aircraft when they were no longer economical to operate. UPS now has the newest, most efficient fleet in the cargo industry, averaging 14.4 years of age.
“A single factor is responsible for the airline’s success — the employees of UPS Airlines — the dedicated professionals who fly, dispatch and maintain UPS aircraft, and many others who support and lead airline operations,” Nichols said. “It’s up to this generation of employees to take advantage of the work of those who came before us, to take advantage of the technology that they did not have, and to take advantage of the knowledge, skill and talent of today’s more highly educated workforce to build on the airline’s legacy.”
Check out our timeline poster with photos and information on the airline over the last 25 years.
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