Atlas Air places two 747-8s with DHL Express

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Clarifies British Airways' cargo strategy in paragraph three

Atlas Air has placed two Boeing 747-8F with DHL Express under aircraft, crews, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) agreements, says the carrier's president and chief executive William Flynn during a 1 May earnings call.

Atlas says that the aircraft, which were returned from British Airways in April, will be operated by its subsidiary Polar Air Cargo "shortly" in its transpacific express network, says the carrier.

The aircraft are two of three 747-8Fs that British Airways returned to the carrier as part of the airline's decision to move to a capacity purchase agreement with Qatar Airways. DHL Express will transition to these aircraft from two 747-400Fs that have been in ACMI service with Atlas.

Atlas announced in January that British Airways would pay early termination fees to end its five-year wet lease agreement signed in early 2011. At the same time, British Airways' parent company IAG struck an agreement with Qatar Airways for space on five weekly Boeing 777F flights. Some analysts had raised concerns about Atlas' ability to place the aircraft upon hearing the news.

Atlas now operates a total of four 747-8Fs and five Boeing 747-400Fs under ACMI service for DHL. It also operates seven Boeing 767s in crews, maintenance and insurance agreements.

The carrier declined to give specific details on the economics of the 747-8F placements with DHL, citing competitive concerns.