Atlas Air and YunExpress Negotiate Additional Boeing 777 Freighter

An Atlas Air Boeing 777 freighter in flight.
Photo Credit: Atlas Air Worldwide

Atlas Air has announced the expansion of its strategic partnership with YunExpress ,a subsidiary of Zongteng Group.

This expansion includes the addition of a second Boeing 777-200 freighter under a long-term charter agreement.

Building on the success of their existing collaboration, YunExpress will deploy the new 777 freighter in April.

Cargo Operations China-US

This aircraft will operate six weekly flights between China and the United States, significantly enhancing YunExpress’s international logistics network and supporting the surging demand for cross-border e-commerce shipments originating from China.

“We are thrilled to expand our long-term strategic partnership with YunExpress,” said Michael Steen, Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide.

“The booming cross-border e-commerce market is driving a substantial need for Atlas’s dedicated widebody freighter capacity. This partnership with YunExpress solidifies our position as the preferred supplier of airfreight solutions for leading e-commerce players.”

“Atlas offers unparalleled global operations and high-quality solutions that empower our customers’ global supply chains.”

An Atlas Air 777 Freighter (Boeing Photo)

Wang Zuan, President of Zongteng Group, commented, “In December of last year, YunExpress partnered with Atlas to launch a successful charter service between Xiamen, China, and Miami utilizing a 777 freighter.”

“This new long-term agreement further strengthens our strategic alliance. Through YunExpress, we aim to address the growing demand for airfreight capacity between China, Europe, and North America.”

“Our future vision includes expanding both routes and fleet size to provide customers with a wider range of convenient global transportation options. This will ensure supply chain resilience and support the continued growth of our customers’ international businesses.”

Atlas Air Operations

Atlas Air is a major player in two main aviation sectors: cargo and passenger charters. Here’s a breakdown:

Cargo Operations: Atlas Air is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, with a fleet of over 50. They primarily operate under two business models:

  • ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance): Leases out entire aircraft with crew and maintenance services to other airlines or freight forwarders.
  • Charter Flights: Operates cargo flights on behalf of specific clients, often for seasonal surges or specialized needs.
An Atlas Air aircraft is loaded with supplies for Turkey Syria earthquake survivors.
Photo Credit: Atlas Air

Passenger Charters: While their primary focus is cargo, Atlas Air also operates passenger charters for various purposes. This could include:

  • Passenger flights for airlines during peak seasons or unexpected situations.
  • Private charters for celebrities, corporations, or government entities.
  • Military troop and equipment transport contracts.

E-commerce Demand Drives Need for Airfreight Capacity

The expansion of Atlas Air’s partnership with YunExpress reflects a broader trend in the airfreight industry. The demand for airfreight capacity between China and North America, particularly for e-commerce shipments, remains strong.

While overall demand may have plateaued compared to 2022’s highs, there are significant regional variations.

E-commerce continues to be a driving force, with businesses in China seeking faster and more reliable delivery options for cross-border sales to North America.

This surge in e-commerce activity puts pressure on airfreight capacity, leading to challenges in some regions like China and Hong Kong.

This strategic partnership between Atlas Air and YunExpress is well-positioned to address this growing demand.

By adding a second Boeing 777 freighter, they can offer increased capacity and support the critical role of e-commerce in today’s globalized economy.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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