About Atlas and Schedules

This topic is just a few things about Atlas in general and how the schedules work.

Atlas does ACMI flying. For those that don’t know what that is, ACMI stands for Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance. It’s basically flying other companies cargo around based on a contract while Atlas provides the aircraft, the crew, the maintenance, and the insurance.

Atlas has gateway travel. This is where they buy you a ticket (positive space) on an airline to get you to where the plane is. That’s generally to your base, but it could be elsewhere. If you live outside of base and are using gateway travel, you generally have to leave on your day off (the day before your schedule starts) to get to where the plane is at. The same thing goes for the end of your schedule. They will also book you a hotel to stay at during this gateway travel period (no crash pads!).

Atlas provides private transportation to and from the plane. You generally don’t have to worry about KCM unless you are doing gateway travel. I’m not sure about the other fleets, but the 73’s transportation is private with the exception of 1 or 2 hotels where we use their shuttle.

The general schedule structure at Atlas is 17 on, 13 off. However, the past year I’ve been here that definitely hasn’t always been the case. I have seen plenty of 17 on, 13 off as well as many lines with days off ranging from 15-20. There have also been some split lines with 10 on 7-8 off. Schedules vary month to month. Atlas has about 4 different types of schedule structures which can be 30 days or 60 days long.

  • Fixed pattern line - you are on a SET 17 on 13 off every month for the entire year and you do NOT bid at all for your schedule. You start and end on the same day every month. Your schedule gets filled with flying as you get closer to your days on.
  • Secondary line - very similar to fixed pattern except you bid for these lines every 30 to 60 days. You don’t know what flying you are doing until you get closer to your days on and scheduling starts filling your schedule as needed.
  • Reserve - you bid for these every 30 to 60 days and are generally 17 days on, 13 days off. They pay higher hours due to credit rig which I won’t get into. They have R2 and R3. R2 you are at the hotel (paid for by Atlas) and have a 1.5 hour callout. R3 is airport reserve and I think is a 15-30 min callout.
  • Primary line - also bid for every 30 to 60 days. These lines you know what you are flying when you bid.

As far as the 73 goes, it is a VERY easy going lifestyle. We average 1-2 legs a day. I would say 75% of our flying is between the hours of 7am and midnight with the other 25% being redeyes. The average length of day is 6-10 hours. Most redeyes are 1 legs, but there are two routes that have recently come into the mix which are redeye hub turns.

Things change monthly here and airports are constantly being added/removed and departure times change. You pretty much just have to go with the flow here.

The 73 schedule is pretty stable, meaning what you plan on flying is generally what happens. I can’t say the same for the other fleets, but we don’t have too many delays or cancellations that affect the fleet. Amazon wants their cargo on time!

Feel free to ask any questions you may have!



This is a really interesting insight into the cargo world, something I know very little about. Thank you for posting!


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17 on, kind of like when I was over the road trucking…of course, I didn’t get 13 off. Looking forward to more about the cargo side of things!

Yeah, it’s a long time on the road for sure. Luckily I’ve been pushing only 10-12 days the past few months.


This is really useful and interesting information, thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing your schedules and the cargo operations, here on the forum. I am sure it will benefit many that are interested or did not know anything about cargo.


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Wow, this is great! Thanks for taking the time to share all this. The cargo side is such a huge part of the industry, it’s great to get some more visibility on it.


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