DHL sells three DC-9Fs to Alaskan operator

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Alaska-based charter carrier Everts Air has agreed to acquire three ex-ABX Air McDonnell Douglas DC-9 freighters from DHL.

Everts Air CEO Robert Everts says the Fairbanks-based carrier has signed a letter of intent with DHL to buy three DC-9Fs that were previously operated by US cargo carrier ABX Air. He says Everts Air, which currently operates eight McDonnell Douglas DC-6 freighters, plans to add DC-9s next year.

"We'll purchase them this year and the first will enter service in June," Everts told ATI during the Cargo Facts 2009 aircraft symposium in Seattle this week.

Everts says the DC-9Fs he is acquiring are three of the 10 DC-9s with cargo doors that ABX Air operated for DHL until last year. ABX Air operated over 50 DC-9s in DHL's US express air cargo network, which DHL shut down last year, but most of these aircraft were not configured with cargo doors.

ABX Air president John Graber tells ATI the carrier still has several DC-9 on its operating certificate although its last DC-9 revenue flight was in December. He says these aircraft will be formally taken off ABX's operating certificate over the next few months and transferred to DHL, which is required to take all of ABX Air's DC-9s as part of the termination of their contract.

While the DC-9 package freighters, which ABX loaded by using the passenger doors, are not expected to be remarketed there is some demand for the full freighters. Everts says in addition to the three freighters he is acquiring he believes four have been sold by DHL to an African carrier.

Everts says he acquired the aircraft "as is" for $200,000 to $300,000 apiece. He plans to use ABX Air to overhaul the aircraft prior to flying them to Alaska.

Everts says the DC-9s will supplement rather than replace the carrier's DC-6s. He says Everts Air's cargo operation still needs DC-6s since several of the remote airports it serves are unpaved and the DC-9s can be only used on paved runways.

"The DC-6 is still the golden goose," Everts says.

He adds the DC-9s will be used on some DC-6 routes connecting paved airports but mainly to pursue new projects. Everts also looked at other aircraft types, including the BAe 146, the ATR 72 and Boeing 737-300, but decided to go for the less expensive DC-9.

"We don't have the work in Alaska to justify that kind of programme," he says of the other types which were evaluated.

Everts specializes in cargo and mail charters within the state of Alaska and occasionally operates flights to Canada and the continental US. The cargo operation includes three Embraer EMB-120 freighters in addition to the eight DC-8Fs with another 15 DC-8Fs currently grounded. Everts also operates three EMB-120 passenger aircraft, which are used on intrastate charter flights.