United Parcel Service bought in 2001 the name, trademark and the Latin American routes of Challenge Air Cargo.But the aircraft were not included in the take-over and CAC's owner Peter Ulrich retained 3 McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-40F freighters and the FAA operating certificate. His company was renamed Centurion Air Cargo and would specialize in ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) charters from its Miami base.
Challenge Air Transport was founded in 1978. By the early 1980s, in the post-deregulation period, it was led by Bill Spohrer. It operated (1983) a DC-8F-55 N804SW (cn45816/236). He was approached by a party interested in starting a passenger operation with flights from Miami to Central America on Challenge's Aircraft Operators Certificate (AOC). That market had come available due to the demise of Air Florida.
Transavia (the Netherlands) was approached for the lease of 2 737-200s and a 24.9% partnership, which sounded good to Transavia.
The name was to become Challenge Air International, abbreviated as C.A.I., not C.I.A. ! (which would not have been suitable for operating into Central American countries, esspecially in those days !!).
First flights were started in 1985 to San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and San Salvador.
By that time Challenge Air Transport was merged into Challenge Air Int'l and the fleet consisted of 2 737-200s (PH-TVD & PH-TVH) and 1 Boeing 707 freighter (N707HE).
Because of a restructuring soon after the initial start, Transavia took the 2 737s back and Challenge Air Int'l broke with Bill Spohrer's Challenge Air Transport. By mid-1987 it was crushed in the competition with Eastern Air Lines and declared bankrupt.
Challenge Air Transport had renamed itself Challenge Air Cargo and was operating 3 Boeing 707-300s (N707HE cn20124/806 & N8402 cn19582/237) by 1987. By 1992 the fleet had been upgraded to 3 Boeing 757-23APFs (N571CA, N572CA, N573CA) and 1 707 (N707HE). This remained the same till 1998, when the first DC-10s were accepted on lease.
JP Airlinefleets Int'l , various years
Airliners - magazine, World Transport Press www.airliners.com
Airline Passionado - before, Braniff, and after (Robert C. Booth, Palawdr Press 1998)
The fleet in 2001: (source JP Airline Fleets 2001/2002)
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