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Air Atlanta Icelandic

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Air Atlanta Icelandic
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1986; 38 years ago (1986)
HubsKeflavík International Airport
Fleet size15
HeadquartersKópavogur, Iceland
Key peopleHannes Hilmarsson, CEO

Air Atlanta Icelandic is a charter and ACMI airline based in Kópavogur, Iceland.[1] It specialises in leasing aircraft on an ACMI (Aircraft, Crews, Maintenance, Insurance) and wet lease basis to airlines worldwide needing extra passenger and cargo capacity. It also operates charter services. The company operates in different countries and has bases worldwide.[2]


A former Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 737-200
A former Air Atlanta Icelandic Lockheed L-1011-500
A former Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747-200B(SF)
An Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747-400 painted in Iron Maiden livery carrying the band on its tour
An Air Atlanta Aviaservices in Crawley

The airline was established on 10 February 1986 by Captain Arngrímur Jóhannsson and his wife, Þóra Guðmundsdóttir. It started operations in 1986.[2] Its first contract came when Caribbean Airways wet-leased a Boeing 707-320 from them for its London to Barbados flights. In 1988, the airline leased planes for Air Afrique to be used during the Hajj pilgrimage trips. This would become an important part of the structure of Air Atlanta Icelandic later on. Sudan Airways and Lufthansa were among the other airlines that benefited from leasing passenger airplanes from Air Atlanta Icelandic during the late 1980s, as well as Finnair, which leased a Boeing 737 from the Icelandic company.

It was in 1991 that Air Atlanta Icelandic was able to take passengers to the sky with its own airline operation. Its first flight was with a Lockheed L-1011-500 plane. Later in 1992, Air Atlanta Icelandic participated in United Nations peacekeeper airlifts, flying the UN representatives from the former Yugoslavia to Nigeria and France.

In 1993, the Boeing 747 arrived, and Saudia became one of the first airlines to lease that plane from Air Atlanta Icelandic, also for Hajj flights. After signing a contract with Samvinn Travel, Air Atlanta Icelandic began operating domestic charter flights as well. Later in 1993, a flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok was launched using a Boeing 737-200.

By 1994, Air Atlanta Icelandic had obtained rights to operate service from many other countries, including the United States, from where it had a flight to Colombia; and the Philippines, from where it was allowed to operate domestic charter flights. About that time, it began to offer flights within Europe and began service to Portugal.

In 1996, a couple rented an Air Atlanta Icelandic Lockheed L-1011-500 to have a sky-wedding. The couple and its wedding guests were treated to a flight over the Arctic Circle, while the wedding was performed inside of the jet.

1997 saw the arrival of contracts with airlines such as Britannia Airways and Iberia, which would use an Air Atlanta Icelandic plane for its routes from Barajas International Airport in Madrid to José Martí International Airport in Havana and to other points in the Caribbean. That year also saw the arrival of the airline's first Boeing 747SP plane, which would later be utilized by government officials, sports teams, The Rolling Stones, and others.

In 1998, Air Atlanta Icelandic leased planes for British Airways. In 1999, Magnus G. Thorstenn was named the company's new CEO. The airline became a fully wide bodied airplane airline in 1999 when it sold the last of its Boeing 737s. In 2000, Air India joined the growing list of airlines that have leased airplanes from Air Atlanta Icelandic airlines.

In 2003, Air Atlanta Icelandic expanded into the United Kingdom with its subsidiary, Air Atlanta Europe, which operated Boeing 747s ad hoc, charter and for the Florida tour operator, Travel City Direct.[3]

In March 2004, the company acquired a 40.5% stake in the UK charter airline Excel Airways. That stake later increased to 76.9%. In January 2005, the Avion Group was formed, and Air Atlanta Icelandic and Islandsflug merged under the Air Atlanta Icelandic brand name.[2]

In 2005, the Avion Group acquired Eimskip, a leading Icelandic sea transportation company, and Travel City Direct, a UK holiday company and the airline Icebird Airlines.[4] In 2006, the Avion Group announced the purchase of the entire issued share capital of French charter airline Star Airlines, the second largest charter airline in the French market. Star Airlines operated charter flights mainly to destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, in addition to regular services to Lebanon, Male, and cities in Mexico.

In June 2006, Air Atlanta Icelandic wet-leased one Boeing 747-200 to Yangtze River Express to operate cargo freight between Shanghai - Anchorage - Los Angeles.

In October 2006, the Avion Group changed its name to HF Eimskipafélag Íslands, and at the same time sold UK Leisure Group Excel as well as 51% of Avion Aircraft Trading.[2] A decision was also made to merge both Excel Airways and Air Atlanta Europe into one airline. This was completed by October 2006.

In mid-2007, the airline decided to shift its focus to air cargo operations. The airline planned to move to cargo aircraft and laid off most of its passenger aircraft aircrew. Today, the company focuses on both passenger aircraft and cargo aircraft.

Britflights cancelled plans to operate aircraft from Air Atlanta Icelandic from the UK to Canada from June 2011, citing fuel uncertainties.[5][6]

Air Atlanta Icelandic operated two Boeing 747-400s for National Airlines (N8) in the year 2011. One flew cargo charter flights and the other one was wet-leased to Cargolux for a period of time.

In December 2015, three former Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 registered TF-ARH, TF-ARM and TF-ARN were reported abandoned at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Air Atlanta Icelandic senior vice president of sales and marketing Baldvin M. Hermannsson said that the three aircraft had belonged to Air Atlanta, but were returned to their owner in 2010.[7][8][9]

In 2016 the airline provided a Boeing 747-428 (registration TF-AAK) to the heavy metal band Iron Maiden for the Book of Souls World Tour, which replaced a modified Astraeus Airlines 757 as "Ed Force One". On 12 March, the aircraft sustained damage to engines 1 and 2 while being towed for refueling at Santiago, Chile. The extent of the damage required the band and its crew to charter additional aircraft to continue touring through Argentina and Brazil while the aircraft awaited repairs at Santiago International Airport.[10] Repairs involving replacing both port-side engines, cowlings, and reversers were completed by 20 March and the aircraft returned to the tour.[11]


Air Atlanta Icelandic operates worldwide passenger and cargo flights as charters and ACMI services for various customers. For example, as of January 2012, the airline operated cargo flights on behalf of Saudia from their hub in Jeddah to Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt (Hahn), Dhaka, Hong Kong, Houston, New York, and Greenville–Spartanburg.[citation needed]


As of May 2022, the Air Atlanta Icelandic fleet consists of the following aircraft:[12][13]

Aircraft Total Notes
Boeing 747-400BCF 1 Operating for JetOneX
1 Operating for Magma Aviation
Boeing 747-400BDSF 1 Operating for Astral Aviation
1 Operating for Fly Meta
2 Operating for Magma Aviation
2 Operating for Saudia Cargo
Boeing 747-400F 1 Operating for Astral Aviation
3 Operating for JetOneX
1 Operating for Magma Aviation
1 Operating for Saudia Cargo
Boeing 747-400M 1 [14]
Total 15

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On November 7, 2004, an Air Atlanta Boeing 747 freighter was taking off but airport tower workers noticed a fire in one of the engines. There was also a loud sound at around the same time and the aircraft crashed. The aircraft was heavily damaged but there were no fatalities.[15]
  • On 25 May 2008, an Air Atlanta Icelandic aircraft operating for Saudi Arabian Airlines as Flight 810 (TF-ARS) from Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport, Madinah made an unscheduled landing at Zia International Airport (now Shahjalal International Airport), Dhaka. During the landing roll the tower controller reported that he saw a fire on the right hand wing. Upon vacating the runway, the crew received a fire indication for engine number three. The fire extinguisher was activated and all engines were shut down. The aircraft, a Boeing 747-357, which was damaged beyond repair, was successfully evacuated.[16] Only minor injuries were incurred.[17] Investigations revealed a fuel leak where the fuel enters the front spar for engine number three.[16]
  • On November 9, 2023, a horse became loose on an Air Atlanta Icelandic 747 headed from New York's John F. Kennedy International airport to Liege, Belgium.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Contacts Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Air Atlanta Icelandic. Retrieved on 6 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 27 March 2007. p. 52.
  3. ^ Travel City Direct
  4. ^ "Icebird Airlines". Airline History. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  5. ^ "About Us". Britflights. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Where We Fly". Britflights. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  7. ^ "To whom it may concern: Please claim your Boeing 747s".
  8. ^ "Malaysia hunts owners of Boeing 747s abandoned at airport". 8 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Air Atlanta says it returned unclaimed Boeings to owner".
  10. ^ "Ed Force One badly damaged on the ground in Chile (Updated)".
  11. ^ "Ed Force One - Onwards and Upwards Again".
  12. ^ "Aircraft". Air Atlanta Icelandic.
  13. ^ "Air Atlanta Icelandic Fleet Details and History". www.planespotters.net. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Air Atlanta Icelandic adds B747-400(M)". Ch-Aviation. 25 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Aviation Photo #0763399: Boeing 747-230F/SCD - Untitled (Air Atlanta Cargo)".
  16. ^ a b Hull-loss description at the Aviation Safety Network
  17. ^ "Saudi plane catches fire at ZIA". The Daily Star. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  18. ^ Oladipo, Gloria (15 November 2023). "Horse breaks free mid-air, forcing cargo plane's return to New York". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  19. ^ Cost, Ben (14 November 2023). "Horse forces plane to make emergency landing after breaking free in cargo hold". New York Post. Retrieved 16 November 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Air Atlanta Icelandic at Wikimedia Commons