A popular trend in social media recently has been the 10-Year Challenge, an invitation for people to look back at the changes they underwent over the course of a decade, what they looked like back then, and how their experiences have shaped who they are now. In this article, we take a look back at the remarkable changes that Air Transport Services Group, Inc. (ATSG) has undergone over the last ten years.
ATSG companies have been a fixture at the Wilmington Air Park for over 40 years, sorting and moving freight, operating and maintaining aircraft, and keeping the airport running. During that time the company has seen many periods of change, but perhaps no period of growth has been so striking as that witnessed between 2012 and 2022.
In 2012, the global economy was on the road to recovery following a deep economic downturn that saw a crash in the housing market and a financial crisis that rippled through the lives of people of all walks of life. The recovery was slow but steady, a testament to the resilience and determination of American workers.
That year ATSG was nearing the end of a long transition that had dramatically reshaped the company. The result was a more streamlined set of businesses, a modernized fleet of aircraft, and a drive to diversify its operations.
CHANGE IS IN THE AIR
One of the most consequential changes of 2012 was the consolidation of two of ATSG’s three airlines at the time. The operations of Capital Cargo International Airlines were integrated into sister airline Air Transport International (ATI) to form a single, stronger business unit. A great deal of work went into relocating the airline’s control center from Little Rock to Wilmington, but both the merger and the move set the stage for ATI to grow like never before.
At the same time ATI had begun the process of replacing its fleet of DC-8 combi aircraft, which have both a passenger cabin and a cargo area on the main deck, with newer, more efficient Boeing 757 combi aircraft, which would serve the airline well for many years.
Other fleet changes for the ATSG airlines that year included the retirement of all remaining DC-8 and Boeing 727 freighters, leaving a freighter fleet entirely composed of Boeing 767s and 757s, which the company was still buying and converting in ever increasing numbers.
In 2018, ATSG once again grew to three airlines when it acquired Tulsa-based Omni Air International, an airline that operates Boeing 767 and 777 passenger aircraft, both as a chartered service for selected commercial customers and also under contracts with U.S. and allied governments. The acquisition represented a major influx of new customers, revenue, and aircraft for ATSG.
GROWTH IS LOGISTICAL
ATSG’s logistics and facility management company, LGSTX Services, saw steady growth following the reorganization and rebranding of the company’s postal sort center business, LGSTX Distribution Services,
in 2011. Over the years the company would open and operate a number of regional sort centers throughout the United States.
In 2019, LGSTX Services added a Florida-based material handling engineering firm, Trifactor Solutions, to its portfolio, allowing customers to take advantage of further synergies in material handling and sortation services.
Many changes were also in store for ATSG’s maintenance and repair organization, Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services, which was already planning for future expansion in 2012. The company began working with the Clinton County Port Authority and State of Ohio on plans for a new two-bay hangar at Wilmington Air Park. Construction on the massive, 100,000-sq-ft hangar began in 2013 and was completed in 2014. The new hangar brought more than 250 additional jobs to Wilmington, along with new customers for Airborne.
Just two years later, Airborne expanded further by acquiring Pemco World Air Services, a Florida-based aircraft maintenance and cargo conversions provider. The acquisition not only gave Airborne a new suite of customers and capabilities for its work on Boeing aircraft, but also expanded the company’s offerings to Airbus aircraft as well.
The introduction of Airbus aircraft into ATSG’s fleet began with a joint venture to convert narrowbody Airbus A321 aircraft from passenger to freighter configuration. The conversion received FAA approval last year, and ATSG has already begun to convert A321s for future lease to customers.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
Since becoming a public company in 2003, ATSG’s largest customers were DHL and agencies of the U.S. Government. That began to change when ATSG agreed to test and build a domestic air cargo network for the online retail giant Amazon in 2015. At first the operation began with just five aircraft flying out of Wilmington but has since grown to more than 40 aircraft operated for Amazon throughout the country.
What a decade it’s been! Over the past ten years, ATSG has more than doubled its fleet of aircraft, its global workforce, and its hangar and maintenance facilities. ATSG is now the world’s largest lessor of freighter aircraft, and the value of its stock is more than five times what it was in 2012. Yet despite this remarkable transformation into a global aviation leader, ATSG is proud of its local roots and remains as committed to its involvement in Clinton County as ever. We look forward to seeing what the next ten years of opportunity bring to ATSG.