Amazon air cargo contractor expects more growth after posting banner year during pandemic

  • Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings posted record sales, profits in 2020.
  • The Amazon Air contractor said it expects higher revenue in the first quarter.
  • Air cargo has been a relative bright spot compared with passenger airlines that have struggled during the pandemic.

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings on Thursday forecast an increase in first-quarter revenue as the Amazon air contractor continues to benefit from higher demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cargo-and-charter company swung to a profit of $360 million in 2020 from a net loss the year earlier of $293 million, with revenue last year rising 17% from the year before to $3.2 billion.

Amazon increased its stake in the company last month, Atlas said.

While it continues to expect strong demand, the carrier said pandemic-related expenses, such as premium pilot pay, will weigh on its bottom line in the first quarter. Fraught contract negotiations with pilots have ended and the process will move to arbitration that is slated to start in mid-March. Rival ATSG, which also flies for Amazon, reached a tentative contract agreement with pilots in its ABX unit in December.

Atlas Air shares were up 1% in morning trading, while the broader market was down.

While passenger airlines have struggled as the pandemic decimated travel demand, cargo carriers have gotten a boost from e-commerce demand, medical supply shipments and an overall decline in air freight capacity.

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