Atlas Air handed Boeing and the aircraft manufacturer’s troubled 747-8 freighter program its second major setback in a week, canceling orders for three of the planes just days after launch customer Cargolux refused to take delivery of the first two aircraft due this week.
Atlas cited “delays and performance considerations “for exercising termination rights” for the three early-production freighters. Atlas still has orders for nine 747-8 freighters for delivery through 2013 instead of the 12 it originally ordered in 2006.
Boeing has rescheduled the delivery of three more recently built aircraft from early 2012 to ensure Atlas will receive, as planned, one in October and two in November, followed by two more in the first half of 2012.
“We expect the remaining 747-8Fs in our order to be better-performing aircraft than those we have terminated,” said William J. Flynn, president and CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.
“As prudent asset managers, terminating the first three aircraft was the right decision for our fleet, our customers and our stockholders.”
Atlas will “wet lease” the first three aircraft to British Airways Cargo and the two planes due for delivery in 2012 will be operated for Swiss global forwarder Panalpina.
Earlier, Boeing received a much needed vote of confidence from Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific which said it plans to accept delivery in October of the first of 10 747-8 freighters on order.
Cargolux cited “contractual issues" for rejecting the first two aircraft in a 13-plane order and said it would seek alternative capacity for the upcoming peak season if it doesn’t reach a timely agreement with Boeing.
Boeing has booked 78 orders for the 747-8 freighter, which has a list price of $319.3 million. Production and design problems have delayed delivery of the plane by over a year.