US cargo airline Atlas Air has received a lot of publicity recently thanks to being the recipient of the last ever Boeing 747 built in early February 2023.
[Boeing Delivers the Final 747]
But this airline has a long history and a widespread network, with an interesting fleet and even some hybrid liveries to look out for.
Here’s our profile and history of Atlas Air.
Atlas Air History
Founded in 1992, Atlas Air recently celebrated its 30th birthday.
In its early days, Atlas Air was merely a provider of aircraft on charter contracts to other carriers. However, with significant funding in prospect, the airline placed an order for ten Boeing 747-400F freighters in 1997 (with two more added to the order the following year).
Despite entering bankruptcy protection in 2004 following a few difficult years of trading after the downturn in aviation experience since 2001, the airline managed to grow by adding contracts with the US Air Force and other organisations.
Atlas Air and the Dreamlifer
Airbus is famous for its Beluga transport aircraft, based on the A300 and A330 models.
However, in the USA, Boeing has developed its own super transporters based on the 747, and known as the Dreamlifter.
Atlas Air has had the contract to operate this small fleet of aircraft since 2010, using them to transport aircraft parts between suppliers and manufacturing sites.
Unusually for an airline known as a cargo operator, Atlas Air also operates passenger flights.
A number of its Boeing 747-400 fleet are in passenger configuration, and these have been used on various charter contracts, such as ferrying oil industry workers between Texas and Africa, and on military troop transportation roles.
It also owns a number of Boeing 767-300ER aircraft in passenger configuration.
When Boeing introduced the latest -8 model, Atlas Air had the honour of being the launch customer for the freighter variant.
It took delivery of the first example in 2011.
The airline also had the honour of taking delivery of the final ever 747 built – also a -8 freighter model – in February 2023.
Work With Other Suppliers
Atlas Air has consistently sought collaborations with other operators, often operating its fleet in their liveries, or in hybrid liveries.
They include Amazon Air, with a fleet of 20 Boeing 767-300 freighters are operated for Amazon Air by Atlas Air. This has since expanded to include Boeing 737-800BCF freighters operating for Amazon.
Kuehne+Nagel also have an agreement with Atlas Air, operating the final two Boeing 747-8 deliveries, with titles of both carriers appearing on the aircraft. The final aircraft, N863GT, wears Apex Logistics titles, which is a partner of Kuehne+Nagel.
Since Atlas Air is a charter operator, it has also placed various aircraft on lease with other carriers (in their full colours), including Nippon Cargo, Qantas and DHL.
Atlas Air Livery
Whilst many aircraft feature hybrid liveries, the main Atlas Air livery is easy to spot.
It features a white fuselage with large blue and gold ATLAS AIR titles.
Blue sweeps up the tail from the rear fuselage, and the tail features a gold logo of Atlas holding up the world, from Greek mythology.
Atlas Air Fleet
At the time of writing, Atlas Air operated a fleet of almost a hundred aircraft, covering both narrow and widebody aircraft types.
Boeing 737-800 Freighter
N5113A (Amazon Air)
N5147A (Amazon Air)
N5153A (Amazon Air)
N5167A (Amazon Air)
N5179A (Amazon Air)
N5227A (Amazon Air)
N5233A (Amazon Air)
N5237A (Amazon Air)
Boeing 747-400LCF Dreamlifter
Boeing 747-400 Passenger
Boeing 747-400 Freighter
N499MC (Polar Air Cargo)
Boeing 747-8F Freighter
N851GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N852GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N853GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N855GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N857GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N858GT (Polar Air Cargo)
N863GT Kuehne+Nagel Apex Logistics
Boeing 767-300ER Passenger
Boeing 767-300ER Freighter
N1013A (Amazon Air)
N1093A (Amazon Air)
N1181A (Amazon Air)
N1229A (Amazon Air)
N1321A (Amazon Air)
N1327A (Amazon Air)
N1361A (Amazon Air)
N1373A (Amazon Air)
N1381A (Amazon Air)
N1399A (Amazon Air)
N1409A (Amazon Air)
N1427A (Amazon Air)
N1487A (Amazon Air)
N1489A (Amazon Air)
N1499A (Amazon Air)
N1619A (Amazon Air)
N1511A (Amazon Air)
N1709A (Amazon Air)
N1997A (Amazon Air)
Boeing 777 Freighter
N707GT (MSC Air Cargo)
Polar Air Cargo
Fellow US cargo and charter operator Polar Air Cargo, with bases across North America and Asia, has been majority owned by Atlas Air’s owner, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.
As a result, Atlas Air operates a number of aircraft on behalf of Polar Air Cargo.
The last ever Boeing 747 was not built in February 2023, it was built in 2022. As it’s first test flight was Dec 18th 2022.
Hi Ian, yes – says it was delivered in Feb 2023, not built then.