Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, which has had a long-standing ACMI lease agreement with Qantas Freight for the operation of two 747-400 freighters, said in a statement today that the leased aircraft will be upgauged to two 747-8Fs.
According to flight tracking software FlightAware, the two -400Fs (29253 and 29254, both of which operate in Atlas Air rather than Qantas livery) have flown trans-Pacific routes connecting Australia, Asia, and North America. According to Atlas’ statement, the -8Fs will operate the same routes beginning in late July. According to Atlas, the -8Fs will begin operating for Qantas once an existing agreement with another Atlas customer expires, while the -400Fs operating now for Qantas will go into ACMI service for another customer.
Turning to the question of where the 747-8Fs may come from, Atlas Air’s current -8F fleet numbers ten aircraft. Of those, six are in ACMI service for Atlas’ Polar Air Cargo subsidiary, two are flying for Panalpina – one on ACMI lease and one chartered – and in June 2017, Cathay Pacific and Atlas inked a deal for the ACMI lease of two 747-8Fs. Atlas did not share which aircraft will go on lease with Qantas, but considering that Cathay Pacific has already moved to reduce its freighter capacity in 2019 to adjust to slowing air freight demand, we would not be surprised to see those aircraft end up operating for Qantas.
Those interested in learning more about Asia-Pacific cargo operations are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.