Atlas Air (5Y, New York JFK) parent Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings has announced it expects to finalise its merger on March 17 with a consortium led by New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management after the US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved the USD5.2 billion deal.

"As of March 14, 2023, all regulatory conditions to closing set forth in the merger agreement were satisfied. Subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the remaining closing conditions, the company expects to consummate the merger on or about March 17," the company said in a stock market filing.

In its fourth-quarter earnings last month, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings said it had received all shareholder and regulatory approvals and was awaiting the DOT thumbs-up for the deal, which includes the assumption of USD2.2 billion debt.

As ch-aviation previously reported, on August 4 last year Atlas Air entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, together with investment affiliates of JF Lehman & Company and Hill City Capital LP.

Meanwhile, on March 9, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that two Apollo Global-affiliated directors had resigned from the board of Sun Country Airlines (SY, Minneapolis St. Paul International) after antitrust concerns were raised about interlocking directors associated with the Atlas Air acquisition. Sun Country and Atlas Air both provide crew, maintenance, and insurance for domestic air freight routes.

The DOJ said at least 13 directors had resigned from ten US corporate boards in recent months as the DOJ's antitrust division continues to focus on competitors sharing company directors in violation of the antitrust Clayton Act.

The LoadStar logistics news site reported the move sparked fears around delays around the Atlas Air deal, particularly since the DOJ had recently filed a lawsuit to block the merger of rival budget carriers JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines. Still, the Atlas Air deal was different as it was a sale to private investors, reported Freight Waves.