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An Atlas Air 747 being loaded with cargo. (Photo: Atlas Air Worldwide, Inc.)

Atlas Air Adds 747s As Cargo Demand Grows

On Tuesday, New York-based Atlas Air Worldwide announced it had purchased four new Boeing 747-8 freighters. According to the carrier, the jets have been ordered to help the company meet growing cargo demand, especially as the e-commerce and express sectors skyrocket due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Why the 747-8F?

Atlas Air is the largest operator of the 747 series aircraft, with 53 in its fleet. While the company has a mix of 747-8Fs, 747-400Fs and Large Cargo Freighters (LCF), the company chose to order the 747-8F due to its efficiency, capacity and nose-loading capability. Compared to other options, the 747-8F has a 16% lower fuel consumption and a 16% lower ton per mile operating cost than the 747-400F. Furthermore, the aircraft holds 20% and 25% more cargo than the 747-400F and new 777-200LRF, respectively. The 747-8F is also the only factory-built cargo aircraft that can load freight through the nose, making it favorable for Atlas’ long-term goals.

In addition to lower costs and greater capacity, the 747-8F proves to be more environmentally friendly than competing aircraft. Notably, the plane’s reduced noise and emissions are important to Atlas’ commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. According to Atlas, the aircraft “meets or exceeds the strictest International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) emission standards” and produces 30% less noise than its predecessors. The four jets are expected to be delivered between May and October 2022. 

Atlas Air Worldwide President and CEO John W. Dietrich said, “The 747-8F is the best and most versatile widebody freighter in the market, and we are excited to bolster our fleet with the acquisition of these four aircraft. This significant growth opportunity will enable us to capitalize on strong demand and deliver value for our existing and prospective customers.

“The efficiency and capability of the 747-8F further complements our longstanding focus on leading-edge technology. Dedicated freighters – like those operated by our Atlas, Polar and Southern subsidiaries – will continue to be in demand as the global airfreight market, particularly the e-commerce and express sectors, continues to grow. We look forward to continuing to provide world-class service to our customers,” Dietrich continued.

Last Four 747-8Fs to be Produced by Boeing

The Boeing 747-8F is a historic aircraft first introduced in 2005, but Atlas’ planes will be the last four to be produced at the Everett assembly line. The aircraft has a long history of success, beginning with its first operator, Cargolux, and expanding to over a dozen customers worldwide.

From 2005 to 2021, Boeing received 142 orders for the 747-8F, including the four from Atlas. While Atlas is the largest operator of the 747 series aircraft, UPS is the largest of the 747-8F, purchasing 29 from 2016 to 2020. So far, that cargo company has received 20 of the freighters on order.

Boeing President and CEO Stan Deal commented on the plane’s legacy, saying, “The 747 will forever hold a special place in aviation history and we are honored by Atlas Air’s longstanding commitment to the airplane. Atlas Air began operations 28 years ago with a single 747 and it is fitting that they should receive the last 747 production airplanes, ensuring that the ‘Queen of the Skies’ plays a significant role in the global air cargo market for decades to come.

“With the global air cargo fleet expected to grow by more than 60% over the next 20 years, we look forward to delivering these airplanes and supporting Atlas Air’s Boeing fleet well into the future. With our highly-trained pilots, outstanding ground staff, and our ongoing investments in innovation and our fleet, we continue to position Atlas as a critical player in the global supply chain and a trusted partner to our customers,” Deal added.


  • Taylor Rains graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Aviation Management in 2017. She has worked in the aviation industry for the past five years and has a specialty in safety analytics for part 121 airlines, but she has also worked for a part 135 company in Alaska. Her experience has allowed her to work in many areas of aviation, including airport operations, flight operations, security, inflight, dispatch, and maintenance. Taylor is also an avid traveler and has used her flight benefits to fly on as many airlines and aircraft types as possible. So far, her favorite flight has been aboard KLM’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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