In a recent global report, analysts from Market Monitor Global (MMG) have predicted that the global ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) market is set to record a significant increase of around 6.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The industry is also expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2027, almost doubling the $4billion recorded in 2020.
ACMI services are currently considered the most common method of outsourcing operations for airlines. The rising global demand for ACMI across passenger and cargo operations is predicted to become a key factor in the notable revenue increase.
AeroTime has compiled a list of 10 airlines that in terms of aircraft fleet size could be considered leaders in the global market.
With a small fleet of just four jets, Carpatair comes in at the bottom of our list of key ACMI airlines.
The privately owned Romanian charter, wet lease, and ACMI services-dedicated carrier is based at Timisoara Traian Vuia International Airport (TSR). Established in 1999, Carpatair has experienced a rollercoaster ride during its years in operation. However, the airline still deserves to be included alongside the bigger players in the ACMI industry.
Carpatair managed to survive a challenging year in 2014. At the time, the airline filed for insolvency, which is like the Chapter 11 status known in the US, providing the company with a special legal status. However, Carpatair overcame its financial challenges and emerged from the status of insolvency and moved into reorganization, continuing to offer both charter and ACMI services.
Currently, the company is partly owned by Romanian, Swiss and Swedish shareholders. The majority stake (51%) belongs to Romanian investors.
As an ACMI services provider, the airline mainly serves Eastern and Western Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa with its four passenger jets: a single Airbus A319-100, one Boeing 737-300, and two Fokker F100s.
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9. Avion Express
Another European ACMI airline Avion Express is headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania. Founded as Nordic Solutions Air Services in 2005, the carrier used to provide ACMI services with a fleet of four Saab 340 freighters and passenger jets.
After rebranding in 2008, where the company was given its current name, the airline continued to expand its fleet when, in 2011, it became the first airline to register Lithuania’s first Airbus A320 passenger aircraft.
By 2014, Avion Express fully renewed its fleet by replacing its last Saab 340 freighter with an A320 Family jet. As of August 2021, the airline operated a single Airbus A319-100 passenger plane as well as two Airbus A320-200s and two Airbus A321-200s.
In 2019, the carrier also launched its Malta-based subsidiary Avion Express Malta, which currently flies a total of eight Airbus A320 and A321 planes.
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8. GetJet Airlines
GetJet Airlines introduces itself as an ACMI and charter airline located at Vilnius International Airport (VNO) in Lithuania.
As well as offering ACMI services, the carrier also operates chartered flights for tour operators of Baltic countries.
Founded in March 2016, GetJet Airlines obtained the necessary European Union licenses and embarked on its first commercial flight the same year. Aiming to gain a stronger foothold in the European market, the airline took over chartered flights from Vilnius (VNO) previously operated by the now-defunct Lithuanian leisure carrier, Small Planet Airlines. GetJet began chartering flights for local tour operators, while simultaneously continuing to strengthen its position in the ACMI market.
According to the most recent fleet update dated February 2, 2022, GetJet Airlines flies eight passenger and cargo planes. Its fleet consists of two Airbus A319-100s, four Airbus A320-200s, a single Airbus A330-300 wide-body plane, and a Boeing 737-400 passenger jet, which is marked as temporarily parked at Siauliai International Airport (SQQ) in Lithuania.
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7. EuroAtlantic Airways
EuroAtlantic Airways is a Portuguese airline that specializes in global charter and ACMI services.
The company, which is based in Lison, is known for operating the last American widebody trijet airliner, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, for passenger flights across various European destinations.
First established as Air Zarco in 1993, the airline operated as Air Maderia until 2000 when it became EuroAtlantic Airways.
The last L-1011 TriStar aircraft was phased out in March 2010.
Presently, the airline offers ACMI services via its all Boeing-fleet, which is composed of one Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft, five 767-300s and a single 767-300 preighter, and a single Boeing 777-200 preighter (a combination of passenger aircraft and freighter).
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6. Omni Air International
American charter airline Omni Air International could be included as a major ACMI service providers based on the number of aircraft it operates. Based at Tulsa International Airport (TUL), in Oklahoma, in the US, the carrier is most notable for its activity range.
The carrier was established under the name Omni Air Express in 1993 and operated in the goods transportation market with a single Boeing 727 freighter. Initially, the carrier worked with shipment companies such as BAX Global, DHL, Emery Worldwide, and UPS.
The airline expanded its range of services in 1997, when it changed its name to Omni Air International and launched its first passenger flight with an American trijet widebody airliner, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. After a successful launch, the airline began providing ACMI services to other carriers as well as to the US Department of Defense.
As well as focusing on charter flights and ACMI services, Omni Air International is one of the few American airlines to have a partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The carrier is sometimes involved in high-risk deportation flights. Omni Air International’s fleet consists of three Boeing 767-200, nine 767-300s, and three Boeing 777-200 planes.
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5. Air Atlanta Icelandic
Air Atlanta Icelandic, based in Kópavogur, Iceland, is another significant player specializing in ACMI services.
Since its establishment in 1986, Air Atlanta Icelandic has evolved to become one of the largest ACMI operators in the world. The airline has been flying chartered passenger and cargo flights and providing ACMI services for several customers such as the national airline of Madagaskar Air Madagascar, Saudi Arabian flag carrier, Saudia, as well as airfreight flag carrier Saudia Cargo, the European cargo handler Magma Aviation, and Kenya-based cargo airline Astral Aviation.
Currently, the airline has a fleet of 16 Airbus and Boeing aircraft with an average of just over 24 years in operation. It flies a single Airbus A340-300 jet and two Airbus A340-600s as well as 13 Boeing 747-400s, of which nine are dedicated to transporting freight, data from Planespotters.com indicates.
An additional 747-400F cargo aircraft, also known as the ‘Queen of the Skies’, is due to join Air Atlanta Icelandic shortly.
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4. Hi Fly
Hi Fly is another ACMI carrier based in Lisbon, Portugal. The airline does not operate scheduled flights but is focused on medium to long-term contracts for other airlines, tour operators, governments, and private clients.
The company entered the ACMI market in 2006, after it was granted a Portuguese Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and gained the necessary European Union regulations specifying minimum safety and safety-related procedures for both commercial passenger and cargo operations (EU-OPS).
Turning our attention to the carrier’s fleet, the Portuguese ACMI airline used to have a single Airbus A330-300 jet, one of the most common widebody aircraft types in the European region.
In 2008, Hi Fly increased its number of planes to two A310-300s, but further development of the airline did not stop there.
According to Planespotters.com, as of February 3, 2022, the Hi Fly operates a monogamous fleet consisting of 17 Airbus-only aircraft, consisting of two A319-100s, two A321-200s, a single A330-200 jet, four A330-300s, two A330-900s, and six A340-300 aircraft.
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3. ABX Air
ABX Air, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group, is an American ACMI airline that operates a considerable cargo fleet. The airline was founded in 1980 as a part of Airborne Freight Corporation of Seattle and was initially named Airborne Express. It started services a year later, opting to transport cargo goods as its core service.
After a merger with DHL in 2003, the airline received its current branding and was renamed ABX Air. It became the third-largest cargo carrier in the United States, specializing in ACMI services across the eCommerce and express delivery markets.
For many years, the carrier flew various McDonnell Douglas DC freighters, such as DC-8s or DC-9s. But following the merger, ABX reorganized its fleet and began to operate the Boeing 767 type.
Presently, ABX Air flies a monogamous fleet of 20 Boeing 767 cargo aircraft, comprising 12 jets of the 200 variant and eight freighters of a slightly larger -300 modification.
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2. SmartLynx Airlines
SmartLynx Airlines, a subsidiary of Avia Solutions Group, is a holiday charter and cargo airline based at Riga International Airport (RIX). The airline offers full-service ACMI aircraft lease services for customers across Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
Founded in 1992 as LatCharter, the airline commenced operations in 1993 with a single passenger jet. In 2006, the carrier was taken over by Loftleioir, the aircraft lease arm of Icelandair Group. The airline significantly expanded its fleet and made the ACMI market a business priority. The company received its current branding in 2008, when it was renamed SmartLynx Airlines.
The carrier started its services with a single twin-engine narrowbody passenger aircraft, a Tupolev Tu-134B, in 2007. However, it managed to increase and renew its fleet by including well-known aircraft types. These were five Airbus A320-200s and two Boeing 767-300s.
Over time, SmartLynx Airlines continued to expand its fleet and currently operates 33 Airbus jets: 18 A320-200s, nine A321-200s, and six A330-300 wide-body planes. While three out of 33 aircraft are assigned to cargo operations, the entire SmartLynx Airbus A330-300 fleet, and a single Airbus A321-200, are considered preighters.
The airline, which also has two subsidiaries in Estonia and Malta, has operated for numerous carriers such as Air Malta, Finnair, SBA Airlines, Condor Flugdienst, TUI Deutschland, and DHL Express.
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1. Atlas Air
And coming in at number one is American airline Atlas Air. The airline, which is one of the world’s largest operators of Boeing 747 aircraft available for lease, provides both long-term or short-term freight and passenger operations.
Currently, the carrier’s passenger aircraft fleet consists of some of the best-known and most reliable icons of the skies such as the widebody Boeing 747-400, as well as a smaller twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER.
As of January 31, 2022, Atlas Air operates five Boeing 747-400s and six Boeing 767-300ERs dedicated to serving passenger flights.
The company’s cargo fleet also consists of widespread freighter types and boasts 39 wide-body Boeing 747-400Fs, 10 747-8Fs, 24 Boeing 767-300Fs, nine 777Fs, and eight Boeing 737-800 freighters for domestic, regional, and international cargo operations, Planespotters.com data indicates.
The airline, whose headquarters are based at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, operates to specific destinations depending on customer needs and seasonal trends. However, it typically provides ACMI services throughout regions such as North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
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