FedEx touts 777, wants Congress to pass trade agreements

FedEx 777The agreement with Columbia would provide for duty-free U.S. exports, while the Panama deal would eliminate tariffs on 68 of Panama's agricultural lines. The Korea agreement is expected to produce up to $1.9 billion annually for the agricultural industry.

Ducker called the arrival of FedEx's 13th Boeing 777 from Seattle, Wash. a potential "inflection point" in the debate over the trade agreements, which are receiving a renewed push from the Obama administration as it looks to spur a sluggish national economy.

"In a word, the most paramount reason to implement these three pending trade agreements is 'jobs,'" Agriculture Commissioner Tom Vilsak told a House committee last month. 

On Wednesday, Ducker said the 777s, which can weight up to 767,000 pounds when it takes off, have enabled the company to grow its international business and capture a larger share of emerging markets in Asia even without the trade deals in place.

"The 777 is one of the greatest tools in our toolkit for that," he said. "They give the customer a greater competitive advantage."

FedEx Senior Vice-President of Flight Operations Paul Cassell, who has flown the 777, agreed, calling it the "workhorse of our fleet."

"It's only here for a few hours for this event, then we're going to take it back into the system and put it to work," he said.

Ducker said the 12 777s FedEx already had flown 900 million pounds of packages about 20 million miles. 

This article was corrected from an earlier version June 9 at 10:01 a.m.