Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings today issued a statement saying that it had cancelled three of its twelve orders for Boeing’s 747-8 Freighter. The ACMI operator said: “Atlas Air notified Boeing that it has exercised its contractual termination rights with respect to three early production 747-8 freighters after lengthy delays and performance considerations. These three early production freighters were previously scheduled to be Atlas Air’s first deliveries in 2011. Subsequently, Boeing rescheduled these aircraft to early 2012 and three more recently built, better-performing 747-8 freighters were moved to the 2011 delivery positions.”
This follows last week’s much publicized decision by Cargolux to reject the two 747-8F deliveries that had been scheduled for 19 and 21 September — although we point out that Cargolux has not actually cancelled any of its thirteen orders, but rather postponed acceptance of the first two.
What is interesting here is that it has been known for a year that the early production aircraft were not going to meet specified performance standards. So why wait until now to cancel orders or reject deliveries? Is something else in play?