May 9 - Etihad Airways has signed a contract with Atlas Air to provide the UAE flag carrier with its first Boeing 747-400 freighter.

The aircraft, with a payload capacity of 124 tonnes, will be used by Etihad Cargo to transport machinery and other project cargo on routes to and from Africa, Europe, India and China over the Abu Dhabi hub. Delivery and commencement of operations are scheduled for June 2012.

Atlas is a leading global provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services and the contract with Etihad Airways is for one aircraft under a multi-year Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) agreement.

The delivery will take Etihad Cargo's fleet to six aircraft. The airline already operates a Boeing B777F, two Airbus A330-200F, one Airbus A300-600F and one McDonnell Douglas MD-11F. Etihad Airways has an additional four freighters scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014, two Boeing B777F and two Airbus A330-200F.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer, said: "In Atlas Air, we have found a first-rate partner focused on operational excellence, security and outstanding customer service. We look forward to a rewarding relationship that leverages each of our expertise to grow global trade."