“Atlas Air” was the final song completed for Heligoland, with the final mix for it happening while Massive Attack were still on tour in late 2009, preceding the release of the album in February the following year. The evolution of the final mix of the song can be observed in live recordings of the time, with the track having a more guitar driven sound at the start of the tour in September 2009, which gradually made way for the more chirpy keyboard organ sounds heard at the end of the tour in November 2009.

The original working title for Atlas Air was Marakesh, which was what it was called on the 2009 tour, before the band finally settled on the Atlas Air moniker when the album was officially announced on Massive Attack.com on the 24th November 2009. Some confusion may exist over the Marakesh title as a completely different track which was also called Marakesh was played exclusively on the 2008 tour which featured vocals from Stephanie Dosen. That particular Marakesh song (which was ultimately scrapped) lent its name to the new Marakesh track for the following year’s tour before ultimately being renamed Atlas Air.