After an ad-hoc pivot to cargo operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Legends Airways (DVY, Lakeland) has managed to improve its financial position so much that it is now planning to add ten jet freighters, local daily The Ledger has reported.

Before the pandemic, the regional specialist used to operate passenger charter flights using Jetstream 31s but lost all demand overnight as travel restrictions kicked in in March 2020, shortly after the carrier secured an undisclosed investment from a group of new shareholders, including John Hierl. Founder Daryl Hicks said Legends Airways was on the verge of closing down at the time when an industry colleague gave him the idea to transition to cargo operations. Legends initially operated its Jetstream 31s as makeshift freighters but subsequently retired them and recently acquired one Saab 340B(F) and five Saab 340B(Plus)(F)s (of which one has yet to be inducted).

"There was a short period of time where we were unhappy with the investment and unsure what to do because we were planning to operate with passengers. But it ended up being the best thing possible for us because it got us to think critically about the cargo space," Hierl said.

Hicks conceded that Legends Airways emerged from the pandemic stronger than it was before because of this decision. It has entered the international market, operating cargo charters to Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas. The airline is now considering adding up to ten Boeing jet freighters, including both narrow- and widebody units.

Legends Airways did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.

The carrier said it has not, however, abandoned the passenger market, although it is waiting for its recovery. It is now evaluating scheduled operations in Florida, although that is a long-term plan.

"Possible passenger transport is under consideration for some time in the future," Legends Airways said.

Besides its cargo operations with its fleet of Saab (Sweden) turboprops, Legends Airways also runs a flight training business.