A last hurrah for the B747 as Atlas orders four more freighters

By Damian Brett

Atlas Air B747-8F

Atlas Air Worldwide has ordered four more Boeing B747-8 freighters, which when delivered will be the last of the iconic aircraft ever to be built.

The four B747-8Fs are expected to be delivered from May through to October 2022 and signify the end of the Boeing B747 programme, which stretches back to 1969.

Atlas said it had ordered the aircraft as a number of its legacy B747-400F aircraft leases will be up for renewal over the next several years.

The company added that it could operate the new aircraft for customers or take advantage of dry-leasing opportunities through its Titan Aviation Leasing subsidiary

Atlas is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, with a total of 53 in its current fleet, including 10 747-8Fs; 34 747-400Fs; five passenger 747-400s; and four Large Cargo Freighters (LCFs).

In a press release, Atlas Air Worldwide president and chief executive John 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 capitalise 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.”

Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “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.”

The aircraft offers a maximum payload capacity of 137.7 tonnes, which is 20% more than previous generation B747-400Fs.

Boeing confirmed in July last year that it would wind up production of the B747 in 2022 as demand for the passenger variant had dwindled over the past few years.

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