DHL has signed a letter of intent to take a 49% stake for $150 million in Polar Air Cargo, a unit of Atlas Air Worldwide. The deal, which will give DHL a 25% voting interest in Polar, will also give DHL access to significant new cargo capacity on Polar's US-Asia services.

The capacity agreement runs for 20 years and gives DHL space on Polar's fleet of six Boeing 747-400 freighters. Atlas values the potential revenues from this at over $3.5 billion over 20 years.

"The transpacific route is one of the most rapidly growing and competitive trade lanes globally and adding capacity through an even stronger presence in the USA is a crucial factor in supporting our dynamic Asian business," says DHL Express chief executive John Mullen. DHL is owned by Germany's Deutsche Post World Net.

DHL says Polar will continue to operate as an independent company and that the deal should be completed later this year or early in 2007. Atlas acquired Polar in 2001 from GE Capital Aviation Services for $84 million. It has since cut Polar's fleet in half and expanded Polar's scheduled business to several new Asian markets, including China. Atlas says the DHL deal will help it reduce risk in Polar's scheduled operation.

Source: Airline Business