Boeing has closed an agreement to sell four 747-8F freighters to Atlas Air, the company announced on Tuesday. It will be the last order to be produced in Everett, with deliveries scheduled for 2022, the year in which the assembly line will be closed.
The planemaker, however, did not clarify whether it was a new order or a renegotiation of previous orders. Currently, there are 12 units of the 747-8 pending delivery, nine for UPS and three for Volga-Dnepr. The Russian cargo company, however, does not have the order secured by accounting issues.
A Atlas Air explicou que o motivo da encomenda foi o crescimento do tráfego aéreo de carga, estimulado pelo isolamento social. “The 747-8F is the best and most versatile widebody freighter in the market, and we are excited to bolster our fleet with the acquisition of these four aircraft. This significant growth opportunity will enable us to capitalize on strong demand and deliver value for our existing and prospective customers,” said John W. Dietrich, Atlas Air Worldwide President and CEO.
The US cargo company (which also controls Polar Air Cargo and Southern Air) currently operates 53 747 jets, the largest fleet in the world, but only ten are of the 747-8F model, with greater load capacity and range. According to Boeing, the model is capable of carrying 137.8 tonnes of cargo offering fuel savings of 16% compared to the previous 747.
Launched in 1970, the 747 was for many years the largest passenger aircraft in operation in the world and a differential for the airlines that operated it. Known abroad as the “Queen of Skies”, the four-engine plane began to lose its appeal among its operators with the introduction of more efficient and smaller twin engine widebodies, which allowed the establishment of direct routes between medium-sized cities and also the offer of more frequencies to popular destinations.
There are currently few carriers that remain with the 747 on passenger flights, but the aircraft has encountered strong cargo demand, which has kept the assembly line open in recent years. Still, Boeing opted to keep only the 777F, more economical than the 747-8F and quite capable, in its line of cargo-dedicated aircraft.
According to the company, 1,560 units have been produced since its launch more than 50 years ago.