More troubling news for Boeing’s 747-8 Freighter program today. Atlas Air has announced that they have terminated orders for three Boeing 747-8Fs, “due to delays and performance considerations.” The three aircraft they cancelled are test aircraft that end up being less efficient than later 747-8Fs produced.
Jim Proulx with Boeing communications told Business Week that Atlas Air’s decision is â€œabsolutely unrelatedâ€ to Cargolux delaying their first 747-8 delivery. â€œThough the first airplanes off the line are slightly short of expectations, these early-build models nonetheless will be great airplanes with unparalleled efficiency and low costs. As with all programs, we’ll continue to focus on performance improvements that increase the value these airplanes will bring to our customers.â€
Atlas Air will still received nine 747-8Fs through 2013.
William J. Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide, said via press release that, â€œAs prudent asset managers, terminating the first three aircraft was the right decision for our fleet, our customers and our stockholders. We expect the remaining 747-8Fs in our order to be better-performing aircraft than those we have terminated.”
The first three 747-8Fs delivered to Atlas will be contracted out to British Airways, where the next two will enter service with Panalpina. With the additional new 747s, Atlas plans to retire five of their Boeing 747-200s that they currently operate.
This comes on the heels of Atlas Air’s stock dropping 13%, after an analyst downgraded their shares from “buy” to “neutral.” The concern stems from the down economy. Could this have been less about the efficiency differences of the 747-8F or a good excuse for Atlas to take delivery of less aircraft without penalty?
There is still no word on when Cargolux will take delivery of their two Boeing 747-8Fs.
Jim Prouix with Boeing Communications explained what Boeing is currently planning to do with the three aircraft involved in Atlas’ change of contract to AirlineReporter.com. “We are working to place the airplanes with other customers.”
Prouix also reiterated that Boeing’s dealings with Cargolux and Atlas are separate. “The decisions by Atlas and Cargolux were independent and involved distinct contracts and issues. We continue to work through unresolved contractual issues with Cargolux and look forward to delivering its airplanes.”
In March 2010, Atlas Air started operating the Boeing 747 Dreamlifters. It was strongly suspected that this deal was part of a compensation package to Atlas for the delays of the Boeing 747-8F. Boeing stated that “Atlas’ Dreamlifter contract is not at issue in this matter.”
Image: Jon Ostrower