Atlas expands

Atlas will add another 747-8F to its fleet in November.

Atlas will add another 747-8F to its fleet in November.

The Paris Air Show may have ended last week, but that hasn’t stopped the flow of news about freighter aircraft transactions. Yesterday it was China Southern, today it is Atlas.

In a formal announcement this morning, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW) confirmed several aircraft acquisitions and outlined plans for several future leasing contracts. Cargo Facts has previously reported some of this activity, but until now, AAWW had declined to confirm any of it.

  • AAWW has “agreed to acquire a new 747-8 freighter from Boeing, with delivery scheduled for November 2015.” Given the short time frame, and the use of the phrase “agreed to acquire from Boeing” rather “ordered from Boeing,” Cargo Facts expects that Atlas, like the Volga-Dnepr Group, will take a freighter Boeing built for another customer. We shall see. Atlas said that following delivery, it would deploy the freighter in charter operation until a longer-term ACMI contract was arranged.
  • AAWW acquired two 767-300s in passenger configuration (27393, ex-Thomson Airways, and 27611, ex-Ethiopian Airways) and will put them in its Titan Aviation Leasing subsidiary. As Cargo Facts earlier reported, Atlas plans to have both aircraft converted to freighter configuration (one is already at the Bedek facility in Tel Aviv). Following conversion, Titan will dry-lease both freighters to DHL Express. Whether Atlas Air will operate these two freighters for DHL on a CMI basis was not announced, but since Atlas already operates a large 767 fleet, we would not be surprised if it also operated these two.
  • Titan will dry-lease a 757-200F (24471), returned off lease at the beginning of June by China Cargo Airlines, to DHL Express. As is the case with the two 767s above, no mention was made of an operator, but Cargo Facts has learned that Air Transport International (ATI, one of the airline subsidiaries of Air Transport Services Group), will operate it for DHL Express on  a CMI basis. No big surprise there, as ATI already operates four 757-200Fs for DHL on an ACMI basis.
  • AAWW returned to service a 747-400BCF (24833) it had earlier put into long-term storage. This is not an acquisition, as the company has owned this freighter for some time. AAWW said the move was made “to meet additional charter demand.”
  • AAWW acquired a 747-400BDSF (27174, ex-EVA Airways) on short-term lease. The lessor was not identified, but Cargo Facts believes it is GECAS. AAWW said this lease was “intended to replace a similar aircraft, with a lease that expires this month, on terms that are more favorable to the company.”

These acquisitions, following as they do on the heels of recent orders, acquisitions, and returns to service announced by other carriers and lessors, indicate that some big industry players believe that air freight demand growth will continue, at least into the medium term.

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