Atlas Air Orders Four Boeing 777 Freighters

Leading cargo airline Atlas Air has ordered up an additional four Boeing 777 Freighters today, growing its fleet to 18 of the type. The airline has noted that it requires additional capacity to cope with the ongoing high demand for e-commerce products. For Boeing, it caps a record year for orders for its freighter products.

An Atlas Air 777 Freighter (Boeing Photo)
Atlas Air has ordered four Boeing 777F. Photo: Boeing

Four new freighters for Atlas Air

Based out of New York JFK, Atlas Air is a significant cargo airline, and operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft. It has a total of 49 Queens in its fleet, mostly of the 747-400 variety but also with four of the latest 747-8F models. Indeed, Atlas Air is set to receive the final 747s ever to roll off the production line, having ordered four of the type last year.

Today, however, it’s all about the big twin, as Atlas Air has ordered up an additional four Boeing 777F for its fleet. The order was reportedly placed in December, despite not being announced until today, and will cap a record year for Boeing’s cargo aircraft sales.

John W. Dietrich, Atlas Air Worldwide President and CEO commented,

“We are excited to expand our fleet and service offerings for our existing and prospective customers with these four new 777s. With the best team in the industry as well as our focus on innovation and prudent fleet management, Atlas is serving the evolving needs of the global supply chain and delivering value for our customers.”

The order is the first to take place since Atlas fully merged with Southern Air, a transaction that took place in November last year. Southern Air had been owned by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings since 2016, but had operated as a standalone entity until now. With Southern Air came the Boeing 777-200F, a type that Atlas Air had not operated before. With these additional four, Atlas will now fly a fleet of 18 of the type.

southern Air 777F
The 777 is a new type to Atlas Air since its merger with Southern Air. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia

Ihssane Mounir, Boeing senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing noted,

“We are honored that Atlas Air Worldwide, as a global leader in airfreight, has once again selected to grow with Boeing and our freighter family. These new 777 Freighters provide Atlas with more capacity, fuel efficiency and operational flexibility for its customers. As air cargo demand continues to grow, we’re confident that the efficiency, capability and flexibility of our freighter family will meet customer needs now and in the future.”

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Boeing’s record freighter year

With the Atlas order being counted in 2021, Boeing has had its best year on record for freighter sales. For the figures to the end of November, Boeing had announced a total of 80 orders for new build and more than 80 orders for converted aircraft. The planemaker is set to announce its full year figures for 2021 at the end of January.

The freight business has been the silver lining in the COVID cloud, with many airlines turning to cargo to maintain revenues despite the passenger drop-off. Speaking to CNBC at the Dubai Air Show, Boeing’s executive vice president Stan Deal noted the strong performance of the cargo market, saying,

“The freighter markets are on fire right now. That’s where we see real growth.”

Boeing 777X, Freighter, Emirates
A freighter based on the 777X could be announced this year. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Boeing is anticipated to announce a new freighter based on the 777X in the future, but hasn’t done so yet. That’s despite rival Airbus announcing its own next-generation cargo competitor, the A350F, and already booking some sales for the type. Nevertheless, Mounir was noted to have said that the 777XF looks good on paper and that the planemaker is in advanced talks with several potential operators.

For now, the 777XF remains little more than a rumor, but Boeing’s significant product line of existing freighters is performing exceptionally well. If the demand for cargo continues its present trajectory, Boeing could be in for another bumper freighter year in 2022.