Southern Air plans accelerated 747-200 retirements

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Cargo carrier Southern Air plans to accelerate its fleet modernisation plan and stop operating its fleet of three Boeing 747-200 freighters by the end of 2012, says an updated disclosure statement submitted by the carrier's holding company on 19 December.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based Southern Air Holdings and associated companies filed for Chapter 11 protection on 28 September.

The Connecticut-based carrier had previously planned to retire the Boeing 747-200s by the second half of 2013, but it has accelerated that plan, the disclosure statement says. An integral part of Southern Air's restructuring is modernising its fleet with more efficient aircraft.

Retiring the aircraft type will require fewer staff, Southern Air says, and the airline started to reduce workforce in late August 2012. It says it expects that downsizing process to continue in coming months.

Southern Air says it owns some of the Boeing 747-200s and leases others through Air Mobility, which is also a subsidiary of Southern Air Holdings.

The documents show that Southern Air also signed a letter of intent on 9 November to lease a Boeing 747-400ERF from Amentum Capital Limited, and it is in the process of negotiating the lease, the company says in the disclosure statement. The airline says it expects to see the aircraft delivered in late January 2013. The airline is also expecting delivery of a Boeing 747-400ERF aircraft from AWAS Aviation Services this month, which the Delaware bankruptcy court has already approved.

Court filings show that the bankruptcy court approved Southern Air's motion to submit its proposed disclosure statement during a hearing on 18 December. Now claim and equity holders will be able to vote on the statement until 18 January.