Centurion Air Cargo (Miami International) has petitioned the US Department of Transportation (DOT) not to revoke its economic authority despite the passing of a three-month deadline for it to comply with fitness requirements.

The regulator had earlier given the dormant Florida-based cargo operator until March 31 to provide evidence to demonstrate it still meets the Department's fitness criteria or that it is taking necessary steps to return its US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-issued Operation Specifications to a level which would allow it to resume operations.

However, in a filing to the DOT on Thursday, March 29, Centurion pleaded for an indefinite stay of execution claiming owner and Chairman, Alfonso Rey, had been in substantive discussions with a "potential US investor who would fund the carrier’s return to all-cargo service". While it highlighted that the FAA was aware of these talks, it said it would not able to meet the criteria demanded by DOT before the March 30, 2018, deadline.

"Under these circumstances, it would be in the public interest and a matter of administrative efficiency to allow Centurion to retain its DOT authority as an investment is negotiated, business and operational plans are developed, and Centurion is able to work with the FAA and present DOT with appropriate fitness documentation supporting a return to service," it said.

Rey has owned Centurion for around 16 years. In 2008, he acquired SkyLease Cargo (GG, Miami International) which is operated as a separate carrier. Given their common ownership and common use of MD-11(F) aircraft, the two carriers have close managerial and technical relationships. At present, SkyLease Cargo is active employing two MD-11(F)s and one B747-400(FSCD) on cargo services from Miami to Latin America.