747 Operator Atlas Air Turns $360m Profit For 2020

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In 2020, Atlas Air had a net income of $360.3 million due to strong increases in volumes, revenue, and earnings by ongoing demand for the air cargo business worldwide, despite the COVID-19 crisis.

Atlas Air Boeing 747
Atlas Air had a net income of over $360 million in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

The crisis is the best opportunity for cargo airlines

The COVID-19 crisis has crippled the aviation industry. Passenger airlines are suffering from the worst demand debacle ever. But, while airlines like Lufthansa, Aeromexico, American Airlines, and many others are posting yearly net losses, cargo carriers seem to be thriving.

According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, John Dietrich, president and CEO of Atlas Air said,

“We finished this unprecedented year on a strong note, with financial and operating results that exceeded our expectations. I’d like to thank everyone at Atlas for stepping up to deliver an extraordinary peak season and full-year for our business and our customers.”

Atlas Air reported a net income of $360.3 million. In contrast, the carrier had a net loss of $293.1 million in 2019, so that’s a turnaround.

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On December 31, 2020, Atlas Air had cash and cash equivalents worth $856.3 million, compared with the $114.3 million it had one year before.

Atlas Air faced the operational complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic by adding widebody capacity. It also increased aircraft utilization and grew block hours to carry volumes at a historic pace.

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“We are leveraging our unrivaled portfolio of assets and the scale of our global network. We are also continuing to diversify our customer base and have entered into numerous long-term charter agreements with strategic customers,” added Dietrich.

Atlas Air Boeing 747
Atlas Air is the largest 747 operator in the world. Photo: Getty Images

The largest 747 operator worldwide continues strong

We know Atlas Air as an American airline that offers several cargoes, charter, and leasing operations worldwide. The airline is the largest Boeing B747 operator globally. It has 55 ‘Queens of the Skies’ in its fleet.

Last month, Atlas Air announced that it would buy the last four Boeing 747 aircraft ever to be built. These four 747-8 freighters will be delivered between May and October 2022. After that, Boeing will end the production of the iconic aircraft.

Atlas Air stated that the 747-8 provides 20% higher payload capacity and 16% lower fuel consumption than the 747-400. The 747-8 also provides a 25% higher capacity than the 777F and reduces noise by approximately 30%.

About the order for four new ‘Queens of the Skies,’ John Dietrich added,

“We like the aircraft very much; it’s performed exceptionally well for us. And we expect there will be continued demand for that aircraft. What we find in good times and in tougher times, the best, most efficient aircraft are the ones that remain flying, and the 747-8 will certainly be that.”

Atlas Air expects a strong 2021 first quarter. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – JFKJets.com

What can we expect for 2021

Despite Atlas Air not providing a full-year 2021 earnings outlook due to the pandemic, we can still see where the airline is going.

Atlas Air expects to fly approximately 85,000 block hours in the first quarter of 2021. It aims at having revenue of nearly $820 million and an adjusted EBITDA of about $150 million.

The net income should grow up to 65% compared to the one it had during the first quarter of last year, said the airline.

Nevertheless, Atlas Air anticipates continued impact by ongoing pandemic-related expenses, like pilot premium pay and operational costs. The committed expenditures to acquire aircraft, such as 747-400 used for replacing older planes, are expected to be $264.7 million in 2021.

Are you surprised by Atlas Air’s financial results? Let us know in the comments.

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