Atlas puts first 747-8F into service for Qantas Freight

Unit 37561 now features Qantas Freight’s branding on its nose. (Photo: Qantas)

Atlas Air has placed the first of two 747-8Fs into operations for Qantas Freight [FAT 004828]. The aircraft arrived at the carrier’s hub in Sydney (SYD) today.

Unit 37561, which was delivered to Atlas in Nov. 2011, was ferried from Miami (MIA) to New York (JFK) on Aug. 25 prior to its entry into ACMI service for Qantas. It then flew from JFK to SYD via Chicago (ORD) and Honolulu (HNL). Unit 37561 replaces an Atlas 747-400F (32840), which ended its Qantas operations on Aug. 25, having arrived in JFK from Anchorage (ANC) [FAT 005106].

Atlas and Qantas agreed this April to upgauge two 747-400Fs to two -8Fs, with the transition originally expected to take place from late July 2019. Toward the end of last month, however, we noted that the two -400Fs that had previously been flying for Qantas (29253 and 29254) were replaced with two other Atlas 747-400Fs (30588 and 32840). Atlas and Qantas later confirmed that the 747-8F plans hadn’t changed and that they were waiting for final regulatory approval.

According to Qantas, the second 747-8F will enter service later this week. Based on the status of Atlas Air’s 747-8F fleet, Cargo Facts believes that the second aircraft is likely to be either unit 37566 or 62441, delivered to Atlas in 2013 and 2015, respectively. In the meantime, unit 30588 continues to fly on behalf of the Australian carrier and currently is en route from Bangkok (BKK) to Shanghai (PVG).

The two 747-8Fs, which each offer 20% more cargo capacity and can carry seven additional pallets, feature the Qantas Freight logo on the nose door and on either side of the nose. Other than the current 747F routes between Australia, China and the U.S., Qantas said it is looking into additional routes for the two aircraft.

Qantas Freight also has four 737-300SFs, one 737-400SF and one 767-300F in its fleet, all operated by wholly owned subsidiary Express Freighters Australia. The carrier expects to add up to three A321-200P2Fs from Oct. 2020, as part of an expanded seven-year agreement recently signed with Australia Post. The first frame (835, ex-Onur Air) currently is in conversion and will be leased from Luxembourg-based Vallair.

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