You would think that now would be the perfect time for a cargo airline to obtain used 747s just about anywhere in the world. But Atlas Air will, ever so slightly, prolong the life of the Boeing 747-8 program with an order for four new aircraft.
Atlas Air Orders Four New Boeing 747-8, Breathing Life Into Program
This morning, Atlas Air announced it would purchase four new Boeing 747-8 freighter aircraft. It attributes it acquisition to the growing e-commerce market:
The aircraft will enable the company to meet strong customer demand in the airfreight market, particularly the fast-growing e-commerce and express sectors.
In an extended press release, AtlasAir played up its environmental stewardship by acquiring these new more fuel-efficient aircraft versus obtaining used 747-400s from the secondary market. John Dietrich, Atlas Air CEO, noted:
“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.”
Atlas, which begin flying with a 747 nearly 30 years ago, also highlighted the honor of obtaining what (for now at least) will be the final 747-8 produced. Boeing CEO Stan Deal said:
“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.”
Prior to this order, 747-8 production was expected to end in early 2022 once the final UPS 747-8 was assembled. The order of four new aircraft will still likely not extend the program past 2022, but continue to give it several more months of life. It takes Boeing about two months to assemble a Boeing 747-8.
It does still seem strange to me, though, that during a time in which British Airways, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, and Virgin Atlantic recently retired their 747-400 fleets, Atlas Air would invest in new aircraft and not just acquire use aircraft at bargain basement pricing, even if less fuel efficient.
The Queen lives on. Boeing 747-8 will continue into 2022 with a new order for four aircraft by Atlas Air.
> Read More: Boeing Debates Future Of 747 Program