Air Atlanta Icelandic (CC, Reykjavik Keflavik) has halted plans to add two A330-200s and three B777s as it intends to focus on growing its cargo business in the post-COVID market environment, Chief Executive Baldvin Mar Hermannsson told The Loadstar.

"ACMI is always the first capacity to be shed in a downturn. It's a fact of the business model we operate," Hermannsson underlined.

The airline planned to add two A330-200s in April under a long-term ACMI placement for Saudia (SV, Jeddah). The first of three B777s was due to join the airline's fleet in June. Hermannsson said that while these plans had been put on hold, Air Atlanta Icelandic would revisit them once demand picks up.

As such, the airline's passenger fleet will continue to consist of five B747-400s. Air Atlanta Icelandic retired its last A340-300, TF-EAB (msn 210), before the pandemic struck, as the aircraft was ferried for storage at Châteauroux on January 27, 2020, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

Hermannsson underlined that while there were no immediate plans to retire all B747-400s, some of them could be parted out to support the carrier's cargo fleet going forward.

The collapse of the passenger market due to the pandemic initially reduced Air Atlanta Icelandic's revenue by 70%, although robust cargo demand has allowed for a rebound in recent weeks. The airline's current cash inflow is at about 50% of expected levels. Air Atlanta Icelandic hopes to be able to grow in this segment to compensate for virtually non-existent passenger demand.

"We're putting more emphasis on freighters. We will deploy additional 7B47 freighter capacity in the summer. This will give us a stronger foundation," Hermannsson said.

The airline plans to add a further two B747-400(F)s in the coming months, with the first unit entering into service in July and the second by early August. The carrier did not respond to ch-aviation's request for details regarding the aircraft's identity, although the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that they will be B747-400(FSCD)s msn 26563, previously operated as 4X-ELF by El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion), and msn 28263, previously operated as B-2428 by China Cargo Airlines (CK, Shanghai Hongqiao).

Air Atlanta Icelandic currently operates seven B747 freighters: one B747-400(BCF), five B747-400(BDSF)s, and one B747-400(FSCD).

Hermannsson added that he was "a firm believer" in the future of the quadjet dedicated freighters, despite the emergence of more fuel-efficient, rival twinjets.

The airline is also contemplating using some of its B747-400s as makeshift freighters and is "weighing options" whether it would make sense to reconfigure their cabins.