Boeing announced that the manufacturer has reached an agreement with Atlas Air for the last-ever Boeing 747 aircraft to be built.
The United States-based Atlas Air will take delivery of the last four Boeing 747 aircraft to be produced. Namely, the cargo, passenger charter and leasing airline will bolster its fleet with four 747-8F cargo aircraft, the last-ever variant that Boeing has produced of the Queen of the Skies.
“The 747-8F is the best and most versatile wide-body freighter in the market, and we are excited to bolster our fleet with the acquisition of these four aircraft,” stated John Dietrich, Atlas Air President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Currently, the company operates 53 Boeing 747 aircraft, including 10 Boeing 747-8F cargo aircraft. Six of them are operated for DHL, according to planespotters.net data.
“The efficiency and capability of the 747-8F further complements our longstanding focus on leading edge technology. Dedicated freighters – like those operated by our Atlas, Polar and Southern subsidiaries – will continue to be in demand as the global airfreight market, particularly the e-commerce and express sectors, continues to grow,” further commented Dietrich.
The manufacturer’s previous plan of ending the production of the 747 in 2022 has not shifted and the year will mark a 54-year production run of the double-decker. However, Boeing’s Order and Deliveries data, as of November 30, 2020, have not included Atlas Air under the company’s unfilled orders tab. 12 orders remained for the 747-8F, with nine going to USP, while three other frames were destined to go to Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
Former Volga-Dnepr aircraft?
The Russian cargo carrier and Boeing were in conflict regarding the former’s remaining deliveries of the Boeing 747-8F. So much so, that Volga-Dnepr sued Boeing in Seattle, United States in May 2020, as the manufacturer refused to deliver four remaining aircraft of the type to the company.
“Boeing seeks to sell them to another buyer instead, while at the same time wrongfully retaining tens of millions of dollars that plaintiff has already paid to Boeing,” was alleged in the complaint. The Seattle-based plane maker was supposed to deliver one 747-8F, registered as VQ-BIO, in February 2020. However, a month prior, Volga-Dnepr indicated that it did not have the required financing to take deliveries of VQ-BIO, the three other Queens, and sometime later also informed Boeing that it could not finalize the purchase of several 777F aircraft.
The COVID-19 crisis, as ironic as it would sound, turned things around. As the cargo sector had a sudden resurgence in business due to numerous passenger aircraft being grounded, taking belly cargo capacity with them, Volga-Dnepr was now ready to purchase the 747-8F and other aircraft.
Boeing, seemingly, had already moved on.
In June 2020, a US federal judged that the Russian company was in “breach of both purchase agreements,” and that the manufacturer had no contractual obligation to deliver the aircraft to Volga-Dnepr. VQ-BIO, planespotters.net data shows, is now flying under UPS colors, registered as N624UP.