Lufthansa unveils its freighter fleet plans

In a wide-ranging interview in the German logistics publication DVZ, Lufthansa Cargo boss Karl Ulrich Garnadt outlined his thoughts on several important political and economic issues of concern to the logistics industry in general, and air freight in particular. But he also spoke on the more tangible subject of the carrier’s fleet plans, unveiling for the first time that its first two 777Fs – due in October and November – would replace existing freighters, rather than increasing the fleet.

 

In addition to managing the belly space of Lufthansa’s passenger fleet, Lufthansa Cargo operates eighteen MD-11Fs. Other than the loss of a nineteenth MD-11F in a crash in 2010, this fleet has been stable since the carrier retired its last 747-200F in 2005. In May 2011 Lufthansa Cargo placed a firm order with Boeing for five 777Fs, and since then there has been much speculation over the fate of the MD-11F fleet, but until this week the carrier remained silent on the subject.

 

Mr. Garnadt has now broken that silence, saying that the first two 777Fs would not be additional to the existing fleet, but rather would replace two MD-11Fs, because “at the moment, we do not see how we could grow profitably with two additional aircraft.” He added that the two MD-11Fs in question were not only the oldest in the fleet, but also among the least efficient, as they were converted from their original passenger configuration rather than being production freighters.

 

However, regarding the three 777Fs that will be delivered next year, Mr. Garnadt said he expected they would be additional to the fleet, and that no further MD-11F retirements would be necessary. Lufthansa Cargo believes that additional capacity will be required in the future on the Europe-Asia and trans-Atlantic lanes, but he also pointed out that since the MD-11Fs were in  “technically excellent condition,” and “almost completely depreciated,” they could be kept in the fleet without any financial strain. He described them as “workhorse and flexibility reserve at the same time,” allowing Lufthansa to “flexibly adjust our capacity to the market.”

 

To learn more about Lufthansa Cargo’s views on the current and future status of the air freight market, join us at the upcoming Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium, where Achim Martinka, the carrier’s Vice President for the Americas, will participate in the opening session, a round-table discussion of the state of the industry. For more information, or to register, click here.

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