Today, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings announced the expansion of its existing strategic agreement with Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA), under which Atlas will operate NCA’s three 747-400 freighters on a CMI basis.
The announcement is not unexpected, as the three -400Fs have been idled since the Japanese all-cargo carrier was forced to ground its entire eleven-unit 747F fleet in June 2018. Shortly thereafter, NCA announced it would consolidate its own maintenance and fleet operations to a single platform based on the 747-8F. The carrier owns and operates eight of the type. In November, when we at Cargo Facts evaluated possible homes for the idled -400Fs, we noted that Atlas already operated two 747-400Fs on an ACMI basis for NCA and would likely find a similar deal for the three -400Fs well within the scope of its agreement with NCA, were NCA to opt not to sell its -400Fs. Under the expanded agreement, Atlas will operate a total of five 747-400Fs on behalf of NCA, on either an ACMI or CMI basis.
The deal is bound to benefit both companies, as Atlas already operates a growing fleet of -400Fs and is capable of handling the necessary maintenance for the airframe type. NCA’s fleet grounding was due to inconsistencies in the company’s maintenance records discovered by inspectors from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. By streamlining its own operations and opting for the CMI leases with Atlas, NCA will now handle maintenance only for the -8Fs.
According to today’s announcement, the freighters are scheduled to go into service on trans-Pacific routes in April, July, and September of this year. NCA’s President and CEO, Hitoshi Oshika, said he expects the three aircraft to support “growing e-commerce business.”
Those interested in learning more about trends in freighter aircraft operations are invited to join us Cargo Facts EMEA, to be held 4-6 February at The Westin Grand Frankfurt, where a panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic. To register or for more information, visit www.cargofactsemea.com.