Polar Air Cargo

Polar Air Cargo is an American cargo airline based in Purchase, New York, USA. It operates scheduled all-cargo services to Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas. Its main base is John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, with hubs at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport .


Polar was formed in 1993 as a joint venture between Southern Air Transport and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). It started operations in June 1993 and began with charter flights, later adding scheduled services. During 1994 Polar was certified as a supplemental air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration and on 4 July 1994 as a US all-cargo carrier by the United States Department of Transportation. After several years of continued growth, the remainder of the company was acquired by GECAS.

In November 2001, Polar was acquired by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW), whose Atlas Air subsidiary is a leading provider of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) freighter leasing. Polar became the scheduled service provider for AAWW, while Atlas continued to supply Boeing 747 freighters on a wet-lease basis to major airlines. In October 2006 it was announced that DHL would be acquiring a 49% stake in Polar, with that deal now finalised. Polar is still majority-owned by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (51%), and has 736 employees (as of March 2007).


Scheduled services

Polar provides scheduled freight service covering the transpacific, transatlantic, transasia, South Pacific, Middle East and South American markets. Polar offers frequent flights to China, connecting Shanghai to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, South America and multiple points in Asia and Europe.

Charter services

Polar also offers its customers charter freight services, using its dedicated fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft. This includes both special handling and time-limited shipments. For example, Polar has shipped horses, cattle, race cars and helicopters across the Atlantic; critically needed supplies to Tsunami victims; and the rock band Green Day’s musical equipment from one tightly scheduled performance in Glasgow to another at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Polar and its sister company, Atlas, also do extensive work for the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC).


As of March 2007 the Polar Air Cargo fleet includes :

Polar Air Cargo Fleet
Aircraft Total Notes
Boeing 747-400F 6

Previously operated

At August 2006 the fleet included :

Polar has parked its 747-100s and -300s, and all but one 747-200, and has laid off most of the crews for those airplanes. Currently there are no plans to purchase new aircraft.


2005 Winner of the prestigious Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) Award in the Air Cargo Charter category. The ACE Awards are presented based on a survey of 20,000 members of the airline and freight forwarding industries in which the members rate air carrier service providers in the areas of Performance, Customer Service, Value, Information Technology and Overall Quality.

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