FedEx Express Leases Former Boeing Dreamlifter Facility

In late April, we reported that FedEx was close to moving into Boeing’s Dreamlifter Operations Center. With reports that it could move in sometime in the summer, it looks like the plan has come to fruition, with the company announcing its new operations on August 6th. With Boeing having moved all of its Dreamliner production operations to North Charleston, South Carolina, the US planemaker no longer has a need for the facility.

FedEx’s largest hub is in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

“We are proud to grow our presence and enhance our services in the north Seattle market by expanding operations to Paine Field, and this expansion positions our network for continued success in delivering for our customers…” -Tim Wertner, Senior VP, U.S. operations west, FedEx

One Boeing 757 flight per (business) day

Announcing the news last Friday, FedEx says that it will start its new ramp operations at Paine Field in the fall of 2021. This will allow the global shipping giant to expand its Seattle-area operations.

More specifically, once the company gets set up at its new facility, we can expect to see a new daily Boeing 757 flight, operating Monday through Friday between Paine Field and the FedEx Express World Hub in Memphis, Tennessee.

For the north Seattle-area customers in 37 ZIP codes nearby, this will allow for extended pickup times by up to two hours. FedEx adds that its new flight will also “offer earlier market delivery times, additional dry ice capabilities, and increased overall market capacity.” 

The former Dreamlifter Operations Center is marked with the red pin, located to the left of this satellite image. Photo: Google Maps

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Boeing’s consolidation efforts

While FedEx made no mention of the previous occupants of its new facility, the company’s newly acquired 19.24-acre, 68,745-square foot facility was once known as the “Dreamlifter Operations Center.” This was previously ‘searchable’ on Google Maps, however, it now appears that the listing has been removed.

According to The Seattle Times, Paine Field airport built the facility at a cost of $30 million in 2013 with the intention to house and perform maintenance on Boeing’s fleet of four Dreamlifter aircraft. The Dreamlifters were tasked with ferrying sections of 787 Dreamliners from suppliers in faraway places like Japan and Italy to the final assembly line in Everett.

The Dreamlifter will still make the occasional appearance at Paine Field. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Just a few years after 787 production was up and running, Boeing opened up a second assembly line in South Carolina in 2011. However, over the course of 2020, Boeing made the decision to consolidate its 787 assembly facilities in South Carolina, thus providing an opportunity for the company to vacate the Dreamlifter Operations Center.

In a 2020 statement, Boeing CFO Greg Smith said:

“Boeing is reviewing every piece of real estate, every building, every lease, every warehouse, every site, with a goal of shrinking the company’s total real estate by 30%.”

While the Dreamlifter still flies into Paine Field to deliver large 767 components from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, the frequency of flights is reduced to the point that Boeing no longer needs the operations support center.

Are you sad to see this part of Boeing’s operations come to an end at Paine Field? Let us know in the comments.

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