UPS Airlines

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UPS Airlines
UPS Airlines Logo.jpeg
UPS emblem on the vertical stabilizer of a Boeing aircraft
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1988
Fleet size 237
Destinations 727 (381 domestic, 346 international)
Company slogan Worldwide Services
Parent company United Parcel Service Inc.
Headquarters Louisville, Kentucky
Key people Brendan Canavan (President)[1]
Website Airlines-UPS Pressroom

UPS Airlines is an American cargo airline owned by United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSEUPS). The company is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.[3] Its international all-points air hub, Worldport, is based at Louisville International Airport. The pilots are represented by the Independent Pilots Association.


Early years[edit]

The origin of transporting packages by air for UPS (then United Parcel Service) dates to 1929; much like the U.S Postal Service, UPS packages were transported as baggage on commercial airline flights.[4] Many packages were shipped by the Ford Trimotors of United Airlines. After Black Tuesday and the beginning of the Great Depression, the air service would be discontinued by the end of 1931. However, the air service would lead to the expansion beyond the West Coast; in 1930, the company moved operations from Oakland to New York City and established operations in other regions across the country as well.

After World War II, UPS (in the process of acquiring common carrier rights for every address in the United States) revisited the idea of shipping packages by air. Starting in 1953, 2-day delivery was offered on coast-to-coast packages; the service was called Blue Label Air. As before, volume was transported via commercial flights. Initially unprofitable, Blue Label Air became popular as its speed created enough demand to maintain a profit.


A UPS Boeing 727-100 in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1988-2003 livery
A UPS DC-8-71F in Miami, Florida

In 1975, UPS started its first international operations as it moved into Canada; the next year, it started service in Germany.[5] As UPS had become a truly international company, the need for its own fleet of aircraft was becoming imminent rather than relying on commercial flights. Additionally, competitor Federal Express, with its own jet fleet, was making inroads on UPS and had become profitable for the first time in 1976. In 1978, the Airline Deregulation Act gave UPS a significant opportunity: the company could now establish its own airline and flying from city to city would require far fewer legislative hurdles, as the federal government now encouraged competition between airlines. In 1980, UPS opened its first major hub, located in Louisville, Kentucky. The location was chosen largely because it is three hours flying distance (by jet) from the majority of the continental United States. In addition, Louisville has relatively mild weather and is at the westernmost point of the Eastern time zone. Also in the early 1980s, the company began acquiring a fleet of jet aircraft recently retired from commercial aircraft duty; it was composed of Douglas DC-8s, Boeing 727-100s, and Boeing 747-100s.


Boeing 767-300F in Japan
Airbus A300-600 on approach to Des Moines, Iowa
A Airbus A300-600 painted in the 2014 updated livery at Louisville International Airport

In 1988, UPS Airlines was founded; at the time of its founding, UPS had a route network serving 41 countries connecting the United States to Asia and Europe. During the 1990s, the airline expanded its jet fleet with all-new aircraft. The first of its 75 Boeing 757-200s was delivered starting in 1987, while 32 767-300s were delivered beginning in 1995. In the 1990s, the airline began to expand its network beyond the Louisville hub with facilities in Rockford, Illinois; Philadelphia; Dallas/Fort Worth; Columbia, South Carolina; and Ontario, California.

As the jet fleet flies primarily on weekdays, UPS was eager to find ways for its aircraft to produce income other ways. In the 1990s, eight 727s were converted (at a cost of $2.5 million each) into 727-100QC (QC=Quick Change) freighters that were able to be converted into passenger aircraft for the purpose of charters.


In 2000, the UPS airline fleet saw another major addition, as the first of 90 Airbus A300 freighters entered service; these marked the first non-Boeing/Douglas aircraft in the fleet. In 2001, the airline ended its passenger service, focusing exclusively on freight service. In April 2001, the airline made its first flights to China, six days a week.[6] In 2003, the aircraft saw a change in livery as United Parcel Service officially became UPS and the tail logo (a design seen since 1961) was redesigned.

During the 2000s, the makeup of the UPS Airlines fleet changed considerably. In the mid-2000s, the oldest and lowest-capacity aircraft, the Boeing 727s, were retired. From 2008 to 2009, the airline phased out its 747-100, 747-200, and DC-8 fleet; at the time, nearly half of the world's active DC-8 fleet was operated by the company.

In September 2002, UPS opened an international all-points air hub called Worldport in Louisville. An expansion of Worldport was completed in April 2010, with the facility now measuring 5.2 million square feet, with a perimeter of 7.2 miles.

On February 8, 2010 UPS announced the plans to furlough at least 300 pilots in 2010 and 2011, cancelling the agreement reached in 2009 between UPS and the Independent Pilots Association.[7] The remaining pilots not furloughed demonstrated unprecedented unity by not flying overtime while colleagues were laid off. UPS decided to reduce the furlough to 109 pilots. The final pilot furloughed was in August, 2010. UPS decided to recall pilots back to work in December, 2011. The furlough officially ended in May, 2014 when the first pilot furloughed returned to work.[8]


UPS flies to more than 200 countries and territories around the world, serving 388 U.S. airports with 936 flight segments, and 378 international airports with 755 flight segments daily.[1] Most UPS Airlines flights go through the UPS Worldport at Louisville International Airport. In addition to Worldport, UPS Airlines operates regionally focused hubs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Ontario, California; Dallas/Fort Worth; Rockford, Illinois and Columbia, South Carolina. Philadelphia is the main transatlantic hub for flights to Europe. Other hubs in North America include Hamilton, Ontario and Miami, Florida. Internationally, UPS operates hubs in Cologne, Germany; Hong Kong; Shanghai, China and Shenzhen, China.


A Boeing 747-200 in original UPS Airlines livery at Denver International Airport in 2003

As of September 2015, UPS Airlines has an active fleet of 237 Jet aircraft. In addition, the airline charters 301 aircraft.[9]

UPS Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Notes
Airbus A300-600
Boeing 747-400BCF
Boeing 747-400F
Boeing 757-200PF
Boeing 767-300F
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
Total 238

In January 2005, UPS Airlines placed an order for 10 freighter versions of the Airbus A380 with an option for 10 more; as part of the deal, the airline reduced an existing commitment for 90 Airbus A300 freighters to 53.[10] In March 2007, the order was cancelled, citing production delays that pushed the initial delivery date beyond 2012.[11] In August 2005, the airline ordered 8 Boeing 747-400's to increase capacity on its major trunk routes to Europe, Asia, and North America. Deliveries of these started in June 2007.[12] UPS Airlines placed a firm order for 27 additional Boeing 767–300 Freighters in February 2007 to be delivered 2009 to 2013.[13]

A UPS Boeing 747-400 in Dubai.
A Boeing 757-200PF painted in the updated UPS livery at Louisville International Airport


From 1988 to 2003, the UPS airline used a brown and white livery. A brown cheatline was applied along the center of the fuselage; this was done to cover up the passenger windows on converted passenger aircraft in the fleet. On the forward third of the fuselage above the cheatline was written: "United Parcel Service".

UPS Airlines currently uses a tricolor livery on its aircraft. The majority of the fuselage is white, with the vertical stabilizer and rear portion of the fuselage painted UPS Pullman Brown. A gold stripe separates the brown and white painted areas. On the forward third of the fuselage is written: "Worldwide Services: Synchronizing the world of commerce". The current livery was introduced in 2003 to commemorate the redesign of the UPS corporate logo.

Starting in 2014, the company began removing the phrase "Synchronizing the world of commerce", changing the main UPS logo on the tail, and changing the color gold on its aircraft. The gold stripe is now a more brighter gold. This is done to match the newer UPS logo which features only one shade of gold and is also placed on the tail of the aircraft. All of this is during normally scheduled painting sessions. As of July 2015, more than half of the company's Boeing 757-200 had been repainted in the updated livery with a select few Airbus A300-600 and Boeing 767-300 painted as well.

Use of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) to save fuel[edit]

UPS Airlines is experimenting with a Global Positioning System-based landing procedure, called Continuous-Descent Approach at the Worldport, replacing the traditional holding pattern and step-wise descent. CDA is used to reduce the time and fuel needed to approach a runway and land by eliminating the need to alternatively reduce and increase throttle to descend and level off. UPS Airlines estimates that this procedure saves an average of 250 to 465 lbs (110–210 kilograms) of fuel per flight. CDA is part of the Federal Aviation Administration's long-term "Next-Gen" air traffic control plan.[14]

Major incidents and accidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "UPS Air Operations Facts - UPS Pressroom". 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  2. ^ "UPS launches Shenzhen flights". February 8, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Special Delivery: UPS Moving Ancient Terra Cotta Army." United Parcel Service. May 5, 2008. Retrieved on June 19, 2010. "UPS air operations are headquartered in Louisville, Ky.,"
  4. ^ "1918 - UPS Pressroom". 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  5. ^ "1975 - UPS Pressroom". 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  6. ^ "UPS Timeline". 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  7. ^ "UPS Starts Pilot Furlough Process". UPS Website. February 8, 2010. 
  8. ^ "UPS Airlines Information". Airline Pilot Central. April 11, 2011. 
  9. ^ "UPS Air Operations Facts". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  10. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2006-12-09. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  11. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2007-12-18. Archived from the original on 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  12. ^ UPS press release, August 17, 2005
  13. ^ "Press Release". UPS. February 5, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-09. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  14. ^ Getting Air Traffic Under Control, Time Magazine, October 19, 2009, p.Global 8
  15. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-34AF N316UP Houston-Ellington Field, TX (EFD)". Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  16. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N250UP Louisville-Standiford Field, KY (SDF)". Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  17. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-8-71F N748UP Philadelphia International Airport, PA (PHL)". Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Statement on Aircraft Incident." United Parcel Service. September 3, 2010. Retrieved on September 3, 2010.
  19. ^ "Plane crashes near Dubai airport – Middle East". Al Jazeera English. September 4, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  20. ^ "[1]." United Parcel Service. August 14, 2013. Retrieved on August 14, 2013.

External links[edit]