First of Last: Atlas Air Takes Delivery of Boeing 747-8F, 3 Remain to be Built
U.S. cargo and charter airline Atlas Air took delivery of the first of four Boeing 747-8Fs (freighters) it plans to add to its fleet during 2022. The aircraft will operate on behalf of its Chinese customer Cainiao, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, as part of a previously announced long-term agreement.
The aircraft will increase capacity on routes between China and the Americas; especially, in the United States, Brazil and Chile. In this regard, Atlas Air highlighted its payload capacity, 20% higher than that of its predecessor, the 747-400F. It also highlighted the model’s efficiency, since it consumes 16% less fuel compared to the previous version.
“The iconic Boeing 747 program has been in operation for over 50 years and will continue to play a critical role in keeping global supply chains moving for decades to come,” the company stressed in a nod to the aircraft’s rich history.
Production of the “Jumbo Jet” in both passenger and cargo versions is coming to an end. The four units for Atlas Air will be the last to leave the factory. This will mark the end of more than half a century of production history of one of the most iconic aircraft in aviation history.
The first Boeing 747-100 flew for the first time in 1969. A year later, the model started commercial operations for its launch customer: the now-defunct Pan Am. The aircraft revolutionized the concept of intercontinental travel and ushered in a new era in the industry. In recent decades and, following the emergence of more efficient and economical long-range twin-engine aircraft, the “Queen” gradually began to be dropped from the fleets of many operators.
However, the paradigm shift also offers an act of revenge: today, cargo airlines are experiencing an upswing in demand for their services, boosted by the growth of e-commerce and the transport of supplies. The trend is expected to continue over the next few years. The 747-8F, an aircraft with modern features and high capacity, offers itself as a high-value solution in that context.
“These four new 747-8s allow us to offer our customers significant growth opportunities to capitalize on strong demand and deliver value on what we consider among the best and most versatile widebody freighters in the market,” said Michael T. Steen, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide.
This story was published in syndication with Aviacionline, originally written by Agustin Miguens.