Cargo carrier Atlas Air has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to operate passenger charter services for U.S. military personnel, complementing the...

Cargo carrier Atlas Air has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to operate passenger charter services for U.S. military personnel, complementing the carrier’s long-time status as an operator of military cargo-charter flights.

The new military passenger-charter service is expected to start in May, according to Atlas Air’s parent, airfreight company Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (AAWW). The company is headquartered in Purchase, New York, near New York City.

Atlas Air will operate passenger charters for the U.S. Defense Department’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) using a Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft acquired under an operating lease. Atlas Air has two leased 747-400 passenger jets in its fleet.

Atlas Air has won Department of Defense approval to operate passenger charter services for U.S. military personnel. The airline is using leased Boeing 747-400 passenger jets for its military passenger-charter flights

“AMC passenger service is an exciting expansion of our business,” says William Flynn, president and chief executive officer of Atlas Air Worldwide. “Our entry into passenger service for the U.S. military leverages the experience of our long-standing service in AMC cargo operations, our knowledge of the areas of activity and our success in providing premium, private-charter, passenger CMI [crew, maintenance, insurance] operations for SonAir. These created a low-risk, low-cost entry opportunity for us.”

(SonAir Airline Services is the airline subsidiary of Sonangol, an oil company based in  the African country of Angola. Atlas Air operates three-times-weekly services between Luanda and Houston on SonAir’s behalf, using a leased 747-400.)

“We expect modest levels of military-passenger flying in 2011, which will increase in 2012. We anticipate a moderate earnings impact this year considering the hours of activity and the start-up costs we have incurred since January. Each hour we fly is an hour of growth for us and is part of our strategy to mitigate any reduction in AMC cargo demand,” says Flynn.

This is the official logo of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., the parent company of cargo and passenger carrier Atlas Air, as well as the majority shareholder of freight airline Polar Air Cargo and the parent of aircraft-leasing company Titan Aviation Leasing

Flynn adds: “As a large percentage of flying is entitlement driven, we will size our fleet and operations to meet anticipated demand. Since approximately 95 per cent of U.S. troops move via commercial air carriers, there should be a good level of sustained passenger demand. We foresee meaningful earnings growth from AMC passenger operations in 2012 and beyond.”

AAWW is the parent company of Atlas Air, Inc. and Titan Aviation Leasing, and is the majority shareholder of Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc. Through Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo, AAWW operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 747 freighters.

Atlas, Titan and Polar offer a range of air cargo assets and outsourced aviation operating services and solutions. These include ACMI service, in which customers receive an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance on a long-term basis; CMI service, for customers that provide their own aircraft; express network and scheduled air cargo service; military charters; commercial cargo charters; and dry leasing of aircraft and engines (that is, leasing without crews, maintenance or insurance, with the lessee providing its own).

For more information on AAWW, visit