FedEx Express (FX, Memphis International) is eyeing the gradual phase-out of its MD-11F freighters, although it has yet to finalise the plan and announce a specific retirement date, FedEx President and Chief Operating Officer Raj Subramaniam said during a quarterly investor call.

"One part of this effort [to cut costs] is to reconfigure our air network. This requires many steps, including plans currently being developed to phase out our fleet of MD-11Fs... We come to a fork in the road here: are we going to see a high-demand environment or a low-demand environment? The MD-11F was that flex fleet. And as we now look at the demand environment, we don't see that high demand coming through," he explained.

The integrator's quarterly report shows it operating fifty-eight MD-11Fs as of February 28, 2023, although the ch-aviation fleets module indicates that only 51 remain active, with a further 14 in storage. The average age of this subfleet is 29.6 years. While FedEx owns the majority of its MD-11Fs, the firm said two are on leases scheduled to expire in 2023, three in 2024, and another two in 2025.

Due to a demand crunch in the market and amidst global recessionary concerns, FedEx Express will focus on its twinjet freighters which currently number 110 B757-200(SF)s, 125 B767-300Fs, fifty-three B777-200Fs, forty-two A300-600Fs, and twenty-four A300-600R(F)s in the mainline fleet. It retired all MD-10-30(F)s at the end of 2022.

"We are taking additional steps to address our fixed expense structure. This quarter, we reduced flight hours by 8% and salary and benefit expenses by 4%. We also parked an additional nine aircraft, downgauged on certain routes, and implemented various productivity improvements," Subramaniam said.

The holding plans to park additional six aircraft during the March-May 2023 quarter.

In the three months ended February 28, 2023, which include the busy end-of-year peak, FedEx recorded a 31% drop in net income to USD771 million year-over-year. Operating income for the FedEx Express segment, which includes air operations, plummeted 77% to USD119 million.

FedEx Express is the largest of the three remaining MD-11F operators. UPS Airlines, which operates 42 of the type, began their phase-out earlier this year, although it has yet to announce a final retirement timeline. United Parcel Service said in its annual report for 2022 that it would retire the first six MD-11Fs in 2023, taking an after-tax charge of USD58 million.

The third airline, Western Global Airlines, operates sixteen MD-11Fs, although only two remain active.