Atlas Air, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, is a major American cargo airline, passenger charter airline, and aircraft lessor based in Purchase, New York. The airline was named after Atlas, a figure in Greek mythology, who carries the sky on his shoulders. Atlas Air is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 747 aircraft, with a total fleet of 54 of this specific fleet type. In 2021, the airline had 4,056 employees and operated to more than 300 global destinations.[2]

Atlas Air
Atlas Air logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1992; 30 years ago (1992)
AOC #UIEA784U[1]
Fleet size108
Parent companyAtlas Air Worldwide Holdings
HeadquartersPurchase, New York, U.S.
Key people
  • John W. Dietrich (President & CEO)
  • James A. Forbes (COO)
  • Spencer Schwartz (CFO)
  • Olga Alauof (Chairwoman)


Atlas Air Boeing 747-400F

In 1992, Atlas Air began operations when the airline's founder, Michael Chowdry, started leasing aircraft to airlines.[3]

In 1993, China Airlines, the first customer, initiated operations with Atlas Air with one airplane on an Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance (ACMI) agreement.[4]

By 1995, Atlas Air began trading publicly.[4]

In 1997, Atlas placed an order for ten new Boeing 747-400F aircraft with another two orders for 747-400Fs placed in 1998.[4]

On January 30, 2004, Atlas Air Worldwide entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In July 2004, the parent company completed its restructuring plan and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[5]

In 2006, Amnesty International released a report on extraordinary rendition claiming that Atlas Air was one of the airlines used by the US government for rendering detainees. This was the basis for the song "Atlas Air" recorded by Massive Attack for the album Heligoland.[6]

In 2007, Atlas Air began a multi-year training contract with the United States Air Force to provide training for the pilots of Air Force One. The contract also provided training for the Presidential Airlift Group. This program has been renewed several times and remains in place today.[7]

In March 2010, Atlas Air was awarded the contract to operate the Boeing Dreamlifter (officially the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter) transporting aircraft parts to Boeing from suppliers around the world. It commenced operation in September 2010 under a CMI (Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) contract.[8]

In 2011, Atlas Air took the first North American delivery of the Boeing 747-8 Freighter (Boeing 747-8F).[9]

On April 7, 2016, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings purchased Southern Air for US$110 million in an all-cash deal. The transaction included Worldwide Air Logistics Group, Inc. and its two operating subsidiaries, Southern Air, Inc. and Florida West International Airways, Inc.[10]

On May 5, 2016, and Atlas Air announced a deal for to lease 20 Boeing 767s to fuel growth of its new Amazon air freight service, branded as Amazon Air. The deal also warranted Amazon the ability to buy up to 30% stake in the company over the next seven years. Under the agreement, Atlas Air Inc. would provide aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance for a period of seven years. This move came after Amazon's similar deal with Air Transport Services Group for 20 aircraft, also to be branded under Amazon Air.[11]

In March 2017, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings shut down Florida West International Airways and canceled the operating certificate.[12]

In January 2021, Atlas Air announced the purchase of an additional four 747-8 freighters from Boeing. They will be the final four 747s to be built. These are to be delivered in 2022, the same year that Boeing plans to shut the 747 production program.[13]

On November 17, 2021, Atlas Air and Southern Air Inc completed their merger with the transition to a single operating certificate.[14]

On August 4th, 2022 Atlas agreed to be bought by an investor group for $3.2 billion.[15]


An Atlas Air Boeing 747-8F lines up on Runway 27 at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport as one of the airline's 747-400Fs lands on Runway 18C.

Atlas Air's headquarters are in Purchase, New York, with a flight operations center located in Erlanger, Kentucky. Atlas Air operates flights on an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) and air charter basis for airlines, express operators, freight forwarders, charter brokers, global shippers and the U.S. Military, along with dry-leasing freighter aircraft. Atlas Air has global operations established in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America.[2]

Crew bases are located at Anchorage–Ted Stevens, Chicago–O"Hare, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, New York's New York–JFK, Ontario, CA, and Tampa.[16]


As of December 2021, Atlas Air operates the following aircraft:[2]

Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y+ Y Total
Passenger Fleet
Boeing 747-400 5 10 143 36 189 Used for VIP Service
12 52 70 240 374 Used for VIP Service
23 505 528
Boeing 767-300ER 6 30 218 248
Cargo Fleet
Boeing 737-300F 1 Cargo Leased out by Titan Aircraft Investments
Boeing 737-800F 8 Cargo Operated for Amazon Air.
Boeing 747-400F 30 2 Cargo
5 Operated for Nippon Cargo Airlines.[17]
Boeing 747-400LCF 4 Cargo Operated for Boeing.
Boeing 747-8F 9 3 Cargo Atlas Air will receive the last 747 ever built, which will be built in 2022.[18]
2 Operating for Qantas Freight.[19]
Boeing 767-300ERF 3 Cargo
21 Leased out by Titan Aircraft Investments, 17 (as of y.e. 2021) operated by Atlas
2 Operated for DHL.
Boeing 777-200F 1 4 Cargo
7 Owned by Titan Aircraft Investments, operated by Atlas
6 Operated for DHL.
Total 109 7

Passenger serviceEdit

Atlas Air began operating a premium passenger private charter service for the U.S.-Africa Energy Association (USAEA) in conjunction with SonAir in 2010. The charter service consisted of two customized Boeing 747-400 aircraft provided by SonAir. The aircraft were configured to serve 189 passengers in a three-class configuration. The charter service, which became known as the "Houston Express", included three dedicated weekly non-stop flights between Houston and Luanda, Angola.[20]

Today, Atlas Air owns a fleet of ten B747 and B767 passenger aircraft available for lease in the passenger charter market.[2]

As of 2017, Atlas Air is the charter service for the Jacksonville Jaguars.[21] Atlas Air is the charter service for the Colorado Rockies as of 2021.

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • January 24, 2005: Atlas Air Flight 8995, a Boeing 747-212BSF, aircraft registration N808MC, overran the runway at Düsseldorf Airport due to poor braking action caused by unexpectedly heavy snow accumulation from an ongoing snowstorm. The aircraft was written off.[22]
  • February 2, 2008: Cargo aboard an Atlas Air Boeing 747-2D7B, N527MC, broke loose on takeoff from Lome Airport and penetrated the bulkhead, causing severe structural damage. The aircraft was written off.[23]
  • February 2010: The cover of part of the flaps on an Atlas Air Boeing 747 detached from the aircraft during landing in Miami, Florida. On May 17, 2010 a similar incident occurred when part of the inboard flaps on the right wing of an Atlas 747 separated from the aircraft. In May, alleging improper maintenance practices, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a fine of roughly US$500,000 against the airline.[24]
  • November 21, 2013: the pilots of a Boeing 747-409LCF (Boeing Dreamlifter) operated by Atlas Air, N780BA, mistakenly landed at Colonel James Jabara Airport instead of the nearby McConnell Air Force Base. The aircraft was flown to McConnell the next day.[25]
  • July 27, 2018: Atlas Air Flight 8601, a Boeing 767-38EER, N641GT, sustained substantial structural damage, including a creased fuselage, in a hard landing at Portsmouth International Airport. The aircraft bounced on touchdown and porpoised five times, and the spoilers did not deploy due to a high throttle setting. The aircraft was carrying US troops home from the Middle East; no injuries were reported. The accident was attributed to pilot error, specifically "improper landing flare technique and the lack of the appropriate bounced landing recovery procedure." The aircraft was subsequently repaired and placed back in service.[26][27]
  • February 23, 2019: Atlas Air Flight 3591, a Boeing 767-375ER(BCF), N1217A, crashed into Trinity Bay near Houston on approach to George Bush Intercontinental Airport, killing both pilots and the single passenger, a commuting pilot from another airline. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attributed the crash to pilot error and spatial disorientation; the NTSB also found that both pilots had experienced significant training difficulties and criticized Atlas Air's hiring practices.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration – Airline Certificate Information – Detail View". Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc Annual Report 10-K".
  3. ^ Armbruster, William (January 24, 2001). "Atlas Air Founder Chowdry Killed in Plane Crash". The Journal of Commerce. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "History".
  5. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. March 27, 2007. p. 80.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Ostrower, Jon (March 9, 2010). "Dreamlifter deal part of 747–8 compensation to Atlas". Flight Global. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "Atlas Air Worldwide Takes Delivery of Its First Boeing 747-8 Freighter". November 8, 2011.
  10. ^ Stynes, Tess (January 19, 2016). "Atlas Air Agrees to Acquire Southern Air Holdings for $110 Million". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Jamerson, Joshua (May 5, 2016). "Amazon Partners with Atlas Air Worldwide for Cargo Services". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  12. ^ "Florida West Int'l Airways formally shut down". ch-aviation. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  13. ^ "Atlas Air Buys the Last 4 Boeing 747 Aircraft Due to be Built". January 12, 2021.
  14. ^ "Atlas Air Completes Operating Certificate Merger with Southern Air". November 17, 2021.
  15. ^ "Apollo-led group to take Atlas Air private in a deal worth more than $3 billion". CNBC. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Atlas | Charter". Airline Pilot Central. May 10, 2012. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "Atlas Air Worldwide Announces Expanded 747-400F Service For Nippon Cargo Airlines". Atlas Air (Press release). January 8, 2019.
  18. ^ "Atlas Air Worldwide Purchases Four Boeing 747–8 Freighters". Boeing (Press release). January 12, 2021.
  19. ^ "Atlas Air Worldwide Announces 747-8F ACMI Service For Qantas Freight". Atlas Air (Press release). April 4, 2019.
  20. ^ How This Central African City Became the World's Most Expensive, retrieved September 2, 2022
  21. ^ "Company involved in deadly plane crash flies Jaguars players". February 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-212BSF N808MC Düsseldorf Airport (DUS)". Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  23. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-2D7B N527MC Lome Airport (LFW)". Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  24. ^ "Miami flight signals more mechanical issues for Atlas Air". May 19, 2010. Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  25. ^ "Cargo jet takes off from Wichita on short runway". CNN.
  26. ^ "National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report". National Transportation Safety Board. June 8, 2021. DCA18CA252.
  27. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-38EER N641GT Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, NH (PSM)". Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  28. ^ "Rapid Descent and Crash into Water, Atlas Air Inc. Flight 3591, Boeing 767-375BCF, N1217A, Trinity Bay, Texas, February 23, 2019" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. July 14, 2020. NTSB/AAR-20/02. Retrieved August 6, 2020.

External linksEdit