Atlas Air And DHL Extend Cargo Flying Contracts For 20 Aircraft

Atlas Air announced last Tuesday that it had entered into contract extensions with DHL Express to continue operating 20 freighter aircraft. The continuance of this agreement will support DHL’s rapidly-growing express and e-commerce services with the deployment of Atlas (and subsidiary airline) freighters.

777F Southern Air
Several 777 freighters from Southern Air fly for DHL. Southern Air is one of four airlines under the Atlas Air Worldwide family. Photo: Atlas Air

“These agreements build on our successful 13-year partnership. We look forward to continuing to provide DHL Express with critical capacity through our modern, fuel-efficient fleet.” -John W. Dietrich, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide

13 years of working together

Continuing their long-standing cooperation, Atlas Air and DHL will continue to work together. Under the agreement, DHL will continue outsourcing a portion of its cargo operations to Atlas Air Worldwide’s subsidiaries, including Polar Air and Southern Air.

Southern Air, a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide, operates several 777Fs for DHL. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia Commons 

Atlas notes that these agreements build on “the long-standing strategic partnership between Atlas Air Worldwide and DHL,” which began in 2008. This includes the acquisition of 49% of Atlas Air Worldwide’s subsidiary, Polar Air Cargo, by DHL. There is also a long-term agreement in place for six dedicated 747-400Fs to operate on key trans-Pacific routes.

The statement from Atlas Air failed to disclose the length of this contract extension. Simple Flying has reached out to the company for further details.

Four different aircraft platforms

The extended agreements will have Atlas Air continue to operate four different aircraft platforms for DHL Express, including:

Rob Hyslop, Executive Vice President Aviation at DHL Express, noted that his company’s continued use of Atlas and its global operating capabilities has enabled DHL’s ability to serve customers and their continued demand for fast international shipping. This has been bolstered by the strong growth of e-commerce.

49% of Polar Air Cargo is owned by DHL. Photo: Ikarasawa via Wikimedia Commons 

According to data from, a number of 747-400Fs and 747-8Fs fly under the DHL brand but are operated by Atlas subsidiary, Polar Air Cargo. Polar Air Cargo operates 767-300Fs as well, while Atlas subsidiary Southern Air is responsible for operating 777Fs for DHL.

A diverse group of clients

Atlas Air Worldwide is a fairly diverse company with both freight and passenger operations across multiple subsidiaries. The company is mainly a wet lease operator, called upon by other companies and organizations to fly cargo and passengers around the world.

One of Atlas Air’s more interesting operations is its support of United States Air Mobility. Atlas provides transport for men and women of the US military. The airline adds that its also “extremely proud of the fact that we train some of the Air Force’s most elite aircrews, including the pilots and flight engineers of the US President’s Air Force One and the flight crewmembers assigned to the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center.”

Atlas Air also operates Boeing 767Fs for Amazon’s Prime Air. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia Commons 

The firm also operates a sizeable number of Boeing 767-300Fs for Amazon Prime Air as well as having its own scheduled cargo operations to South America. Much of this takes place at Atlas facilities at Miami International Airport, with service to Santiago in Chile (SCL) and Buenos Aires in Argentina (EZE). Atlas notes that its fifth freedom service rights allow it to fly into many cities within South America as well.

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