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FedEx to transfer LAX airport maintenance to Indianapolis

Facility has long legacy back to famed Flying Tigers airline

The FedEx aircraft maintenance facility at Los Angeles International Airport is set to close. (Photo: Shutterstock/Kit Leong)

FedEx will close its heavy maintenance hangar at Los Angeles International Airport next summer and consolidate operations in Indianapolis to reduce costs, ending a piece of aviation history rooted in the acquisition of Flying Tiger Line 35 years ago.

The company said the decision to terminate maintenance activity at the LAX hangar was triggered by the expiration of the lease in June 2024, creating the opportunity to gain cost savings by combining resources at the Indianapolis hub.

The LAX hangar predominantly worked on McDonnell Douglas aircraft. With FedEx (NYSE: FDX) in the process of retiring 58 MD-11 tri-engine jets after phasing out the last MD-10s in December, there is less of a need for that type of maintenance, said spokesman Jonathan Lyons.

The sprawling 950,000-square-foot maintenance facility at LAX performed much of FedEx Express’ major service, repairs, overhauls and equipment upgrades — routine and unscheduled. FedEx conducts maintenance at numerous facilities around the world, but only a handful, including at the global hub in Memphis, Tennessee, do the deep inspections of aircraft parts and heavy maintenance checks that involve taking apart the aircraft.

“FedEx regularly evaluates its networks and makes adjustments to enhance service, improve operational efficiencies, and lower the cost to serve. Upon expiration of this lease agreement, FedEx Express plans to discontinue use of the facility at 7401 World Way West and will move the heavy maintenance capability to our Indianapolis hub,” FedEx said in a statement provided to FreightWaves. “This adjustment only affects the maintenance hangar facility. FedEx will continue to operate throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. As such, the transition will be seamless to customers, who can expect the same reliable service they receive today.”

The transition will impact about 400 FedEx employees, most of whom are maintenance technicians. The company said it will help affected team members transition to other roles in the company. 

A FedEx mechanic posting on Twitter said managers informed workers Wednesday night about the withdrawal from LAX and that it was because the airport authority wasn’t interested in a long-term lease. He said FedEx is offering to relocate them to Indianapolis.

A Canadair CL-44 swing-tail cargo jet operated by Flying Tiger Line in San Francisco, July 1961. (Photo: Flickr/Bill Larkins)

Officials said the closure of the LAX facility improves efficiency as part of the DRIVE initiative that aims to eliminate $4 billion in structural costs by mid-2026 and help FedEx reverse significant profit declines.

Flying Tigers

FedEx acquired Flying Tigers Line, which was formed by World War II fighter pilots, in 1988. The company was also known as Flying Tigers, the nickname for the American volunteer fighter unit that flew in for the Republic of China Air Force to oppose the Japanese invasion of China.

Flying Tigers, the first scheduled cargo airline in the U.S. and a major military charter operator during the Cold War, began commercial operations from LAX in 1945 with 14 Navy surplus Budd Conestoga cargo aircraft and handled its own maintenance there. The first flight consisted of a planeload of grapes shipped from Bakersfield, California, to Atlanta. 

In 1949, the U.S. government awarded Flying Tigers the first commercial all-cargo route and 20 years later it received the first trans-Pacific all-cargo route. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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  1. Akovia

    “Economic climate in California”? Do you mean the 5th largest economy in the world? How is that a matter for “considering”? FedEx didn’t like the deal and figured it was better to dump 400 employees than it was to negotiate a more favorable deal?

  2. George Gewehr

    Leaving California is probably the best thing for FedEx. The business environment in that state is horrible. Management said the airport Management didn’t want long term lease. It’s a matter of money, it always is just follow it. See what the airport Management does with the property after it’s vacant. ???

  3. Frank

    Personally, I think the move is a smart choice. Indiana is a far greater place to raise a family.
    This is of course my opinion. I worked the line in LAX for Fedex and transfered back to Indy when I could. Having spent a little over 17 years with Fedex, I am now retired.

  4. Ivan

    Maybe all those newer AMT’s at LAX that were so against unionizing, are having second thoughts now? Ever since FedEx took over Tigers in 1988, all they did was chip away at our benefits. Little by little, they raped the employees, while still expecting them to work, above and beyond their expectations. It’s too bad that UPS didn’t buy us out instead.

  5. Darren T

    Sad to see this leave, although considering the economic climate in California, it’s totally understandable. I have great memories of my dad taking me to the Flying Tigers maintenance facility where he worked in the 70s through the early 80s.

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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]