Southern Air Holdings, Inc. has taken delivery of its third Boeing 777F and expects to receive its fourth new 777F from Boeing on April...

Southern Air Holdings, Inc. has taken delivery of its third Boeing 777F and expects to receive its fourth new 777F from Boeing on April 25.

The new aircraft – which Southern Air is leasing from another company owned by its parent Oak Hill Capital Partners – will be immediately inducted into DHL Express, for its new round-the-world service from Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Leipzig, Germany, and back to Hong Kong. Southern Air’s first two 777Fs have flown the Cincinnati-Bahrain-Hong Kong route for DHL since September 2011.

Southern Air is the first and to date only ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) wet-lease carrier to fly the Boeing 777F. According to Southern Air, the 777 allows it to serve customers in an environmentally superior and fuel-efficient manner, with fewer stops, shorter cargo delivery times and lower cargo-handling costs.

U.S. wet-lease freighter specialist Southern Air, whose parent company is Oak Hill Capital Partners, leases four Boeing 777 Freighters from another company owned by its parent. Southern Air is also building up a fleet Boeing 747-400 converted freighters, with eight planned to be in service by 2013

“The addition of two new 777Fs to our fleet is another critical step forward in the transformation of Southern Air and our long-term fleet enhancement program,” says Daniel McHugh, chief executive officer of Southern Air.

“Our 777 partnership with Southern Air has been very effective to date,” remarks Stephen Fenwick, CEO Americas for DHL Express. “Their performance reliability has been high, and we are pleased to be expanding our relationship with the start-up of this second 777 round-the-world route, which will also take full advantage of the aircraft’s long-range payload capability and fuel efficiency.”

Adds Fenwick: “The new daily service, routed Hong Kong-Los Angeles-Leipzig-Hong Kong, will reduce transit times for DHL customers in much of Asia to the US West Coast, and will enable DHL to offer the latest possible pick-up times in key West Coast cities for many customers shipping to European destinations.”

“The 777’s fuel efficiency, range and payload reduce costs for our customers and allows them to set up new routes more easily,” says Oliver Gritz, managing director, Europe for Southern Air. “DHL Express’ new round-the-world route is an excellent example. It offers a significantly improved service for DHL’s customers, and the economics of the 777 aircraft was an important factor in DHL Express’ decision to set up this route.”

The Boeing 777 Freighter is the largest, most capable twin-engine freighter in the world, operating at a 17-to-28 per cent fuel-per-ton advantage to other freighters.  The 777F, which has a payload capacity of more than 100 metric tons and more than 650 cubic meters, also has the longest range of any twin-engine freighter on the market.

Southern Air’s third and fourth 777Fs are painted, like the first two, in combined DHL and Southern Air livery.

Norwalk, Connecticut-headquartered Southern Air (which was formerly headquartered and based in Miami) was founded in 1947 as a high-quality global cargo carrier specializing in the provision of block space and aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance (“ACMI”) services. Its customer base includes some of the world’s largest combination cargo carriers and government agencies.

The ACMI airline currently operates a fleet of six Boeing 747-200 freighters and will be adding eight converted 747-400 freighters to the fleet by 2013, with four of the aircraft being inducted by this spring.

Southern Air is a portfolio company of Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm with interests in aircraft leasing, financing and manufacturing.