Yesterday, as a “breaking news” sidebar in our story about the livery Cargolux used on a 747-8F to celebrate its forty-fifth anniversary, we cited a Reuters report that Cargolux was in negotiations with Boeing about the purchase of an additional five 747-8Fs for its “Cargolux China” joint venture airline.
It may well be true that Cargolux is talking to Boeing about more 747-8Fs, but Cargo Facts has learned that there is much more – and much less – to the story, than the Reuters piece indicated.
Cargo Facts’ European editor Alex Lennane took part in an impromptu press session with Cargolux CEO Dirk Reich yesterday, much of which centered on the development of the new all-cargo carrier, Cargolux China, that will be a joint venture created by Cargolux and its 35% shareholder Henan Civil Aviation Development & Investment (HNCA), operating out of Cargolux’s Zhengzhou hub.
Mr. Reich was clear that good progress was being made, and that the new carrier would be ready “on a contractual basis” by the end of this year. He was equally clear, however, that both new and used freighters were under consideration, and that the number needed to start operations was three, not five.
You can read the full interview here, but to summarize, Mr. Reich said that Cargolux and HNCA had put considerable effort into planning the joint-venture in such a way as to avoid the fate of Jade Cargo International – the Lufthansa/Air China jv carrier that launched with great fanfare, but quickly floundered and then ceased operations. He felt that having two carriers, that spent much of their time competing, as partners in a joint venture was a recipe for problems, and pointed out that there was no competition between Cargolux and HNCA.
He also said that while the main focus of Cargolux China would be the trans-Pacific, it would also fly on intra-Asia routes, and possibly also connect China to Australia and Africa. For its part, Cargolux would fly the Asia-Europe routes, and continue its round-the-world service.
And regarding Cargolux’s traffic from the Zhengzhou hub to Europe, Mr. Reich commented that although Zhengzhou is a major IT manufacturing center, only about 10% of the carrier’s ex-Zhengzhou volume originated there, with the remainder being trucked from elsewhere – primarily the Shanghai and Beijing regions.
So don’t hold your breath waiting for Boeing to announce a Cargolux order for five 747-8Fs. It could happen, but it is also quite possible that Cargolux will start the new carrier by picking up three 747-400Fs on the used market. We shall see.
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