The recent decision by IAG Cargo to terminate its ACMI leases of three 747-8 Freighters from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (via Atlas’ UK subsidiary Global Supply Systems) has led to much speculation about whether Atlas will retire some of its 747-400 freighters if it cannot find new ACMI customers for the -8Fs. But in fact, Atlas had already parked two 747-400BCFs in late December. This may not have anything to do with IAG’s termination of the 747-8F leases, but it does show that Atlas, like IAG Cargo and many other carriers, is cutting back its widebody freighter capacity.
We have written previously about the deep cuts Air France-KLM has made, but AF-KL is not the only one. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen three more 747 freighters removed from the active fleet:
- Air China Cargo retired a 747-400BCF. This is part of the planned retirement of the carrier’s entire 747 freighter fleet as it transitions to a smaller fleet of 777Fs.
- Cathay Pacific retired a 747-400F. And more retirements will follow. Cathay recently announced that it intended to operate a twenty-unit freighter fleet made up of fourteen 747-8Fs and six 747-400ERFs. That means that the four remaining -400Fs will soon be departing.
- SkyLease Cargo is reported to have put a 747-400ERF (leased from ILFC) into storage at Paris Orly (ORY). We have not been able to confirm the status of the freighter, so it is possible that it will return to service at some point.
We will provide a more in-depth look at the widebody freighter fleet in the upcoming February and March issues of Cargo Facts, and those interested in learning more about the cargo operations of Cathay Pacific and Air China Cargo should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Hong Kong 1 – 2 April, where senior executives from both carriers will be speaking. For more information, or to register, go to www.cargofactsasia.com.