Air Transport International (ATI) to retire the last McDonnell Douglas DC-8 in early 2013

ATI-Air Transport International (Little Rock and Toledo) is planning to retire its last McDonnell Douglas DC-8 from its operations in early 2013. Parent Air Transport Services Group is acquiring three Boeing 757-200 combi aircraft to replace the remaining four ATI DC-8s in early 2013 via Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM).  ATSG issued this statement:

Air Transport Services Group, Inc. said its aircraft leasing subsidiary has reached agreement with National Air Cargo Group, Inc., for the purchase of three Boeing 757-200 aircraft that have been modified for combi (combined passenger and main-deck cargo) service.

ATSG said it anticipates that its subsidiary, Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM), will take delivery of one of the three 757 combi aircraft in December 2012, and the other two in early 2013.

Joe Hete, President and CEO of ATSG, said, “The purchase of these three 757 combis from National, plus the one 757 combi we already own, will complete our commitment to replace our four McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 combis with more modern fuel-efficient aircraft that better meet the requirements of our principal combi customer, the U.S. Military’s United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). We look forward to providing USTRANSCOM with the improved operating performance and lower costs of the 757, as well as its greater passenger capacity. We are proud to be USTRANSCOM’s sole combi operator, serving primarily remote installations around the world that rely on the combi’s unique cargo and passenger transport capabilities.”

The 757 combis have a 34 percent lower fuel burn, ten more passenger seats and the same number of cargo pallet positions as the DC-8 combis they will replace. The combis will be owned by CAM and leased to and operated by ATSG’s airline subsidiary Air Transport International (ATI), under ATI’s contract with USTRANSCOM. Along with the three aircraft, CAM is also purchasing a spare 757-200 engine and some ancillary aircraft equipment from National.

As part of its fleet modernization program, prior to ATI’s latest combi contract award from USTRANSCOM that took effect in October 2012, CAM purchased a Boeing 757-200 for combi conversion. That aircraft is undergoing certification testing for the Federal Aviation Administration, and is due to complete that process and begin USTRANSCOM service early next year. All three of the National combis were designed and modified to meet or exceed the same FAA and USTRANSCOM requirements, including ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certification essential for service to USTRANSCOM’s combi destinations.

Upon the retirements of the four DC-8 combis, ATSG’s fleet will consist entirely of 757-200, 767-200 and 767-300 aircraft, all of which require only two crew members, and which share a common pilot type rating.

ATSG noted that, as a result of its decision to acquire one of the 757 combis in 2012, it has adjusted its previously disclosed guidance for aircraft-related capital expenditures in 2012 and 2013 to approximately $170 million and $95 million, respectively.

ATSG, through its leasing and airline subsidiaries, is the world’s largest owner and operator of converted Boeing 767 freighter aircraft. Through its principal subsidiaries, including three airlines with separate and distinct U.S. FAA Part 121 Air Carrier certificates, ATSG provides aircraft leasing, air cargo lift, aircraft maintenance services and airport ground services. ATSG’s subsidiaries include ABX Air, Inc.; Airborne Global Solutions, Inc.; Air Transport International, Inc.; Cargo Aircraft Management, Inc.; Capital Cargo International Airlines, Inc.; and Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services, Inc.

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Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best. McDonnell Douglas DC-8-73 (F) N602AL (msn 45991) arrives at Stansted Airport north of London.

ATI-Air Transport International: AG Slide Show