Southern Air

Southern Air Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, is a global air cargo carrier headquartered in Florence, Kentucky.[2] It is a certified U.S. FAA part 121 cargo carrier and is one of only two U.S.-based cargo airlines operating the 777F. Southern Air is the first company to provide ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) service for the wide-body Boeing 777F.

Southern Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1947 as Southern Air Transport
Commenced operationsNovember 1999
AOC #Q2SA131J[1]
Fleet size20
Parent companyAtlas Air Worldwide Holdings
HeadquartersFlorence, Kentucky, United States
Key peopleJohn Dietrich (CEO),
James Forbes,
Steve Turner

The airline operates an all-Boeing fleet of aircraft: Boeing 777F, and the Boeing 737-400SF. Its wide range of services includes: long-term ACMI, on-demand commercial charters, as well as Department of Defense Civil Reserve Air Fleet. Southern Air’s operations also support some of the world’s largest combination carriers as well as government agencies and non-government organizations.


The airline was established on March 5, 1999 by James Neff, out of the assets of Southern Air Transport and started operations in November 1999.

On September 7, 2007, Oak Hill Capital Partners acquired majority ownership of Southern Air and merged Cargo 360 into the airline.

In early 2010, Southern Air took delivery of two Boeing 777 freighters. At the same time, Southern Air introduced new aircraft livery as well as new corporate branding.

In early 2011, Southern Air entered into a multiple year contract with DHL Aviation; by utilizing the Boeing 777, Southern Air was able to augment DHL's overnight express package delivery service through hubs in Cincinnati, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Anchorage, increasing package delivery options provided by DHL to its customers.

The same year Southern Air gradually retired the fleet of Boeing 747-200, 747-300 and 747-400BDSF models.[3]

On 28 September 2012, Southern Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and emerged from bankruptcy in early 2013.

In 2014, Southern Air took delivery of five 737-400SF passenger-to-cargo converted aircraft.[4]

On April 7, 2016, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings purchased Southern Air for $110 million in an all-cash deal.[5] The transaction included Worldwide Air Logistics Group, Inc. and its two operating subsidiaries, Southern Air, Inc. and Florida West International Airways, Inc.[6]

In 2017 Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings shutdown Florida West International Airways and cancelled its operating certificate.


Southern Air fleet as of 12/14/2019[1]
Aircraft In service Orders Notes
Boeing 737-400SF 5 Operated for DHL Aviation
Boeing 737-800BCF 2 Operated for Amazon Air[7]
Boeing 777F 7 Operated for DHL Aviation[8]
Total 14

Pilot labor relations issues

As of 2018, Southern Air and the pilots' union have signed an agreement changing the work rules to match those work rules contained in the Atlas Air pilots' contract.[9] According to its union, Southern Air pilots have allegedly operated under one of the worst contracts in the aviation industry and the company has had problems with pilot hiring and retention. This has made it more difficult for Southern to meet growing customer demands.[10]


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