Yesterday morning, at Boeing’s Everett, WA delivery center, executives from the manufacturer and carrier were on-site to celebrate the arrival of Cargolux’s newest 747-8.
It was not really an earth-shaking surprise, given the Luxembourg-based carrier has already taken delivery of thirteen of the type. But this one, #14, is the last Cargolux had on order, and was delivered ahead of schedule.
Cargolux for its part, had originally intended to take delivery of the aircraft in 2017, but in August of this year, made the decision to bring forward the delivery date. Cargolux’s EVP Maintenance and Engineering, Omno Pietersma told Cargo Facts on the sidelines of the ceremony that it was an “opportunistic” decision. Cargo traffic has picked up recently, reassuring the carrier that now would be a sensible time to add an additional aircraft to its permanent fleet.
Shedding a bit of light on recent traffic developments in North America, Pier Curci, Cargolux’s VP the Americas, noted strong transpacific demand – especially out of its Hong Kong gateway. Such developments bode well for the proposed “Cargolux China” JV with Henan Civil Aviation and Investment Co. (HNCA) which, according to preliminary schedule proposals, will channel transpacific flows. Regarding Cargolux China’s future fleet, it is unlikely to include 747-8Fs at launch. Instead, it will likely utilize used 747-400Fs.
In addition to strong transpacific demand, Curci said that healthcare-related cargo volumes remained buoyant, particularly in regions like Puerto Rico where Cargolux recently added a fifth weekly flight. When asked how Cargolux continues to grow its business in regions like Puerto Rico where competition is becoming increasingly fierce, it became clear the carrier’s reputation as “the forwarder’s airline” continues to pay dividends. Engagement with shippers and forwarders at the local level, has facilitated “product-specific process improvements”, which have in turn yielded individualized solutions based on shipper requirements.
Returning to the delivery, yesterday evening when LX-VCN, the ‘Spirit of Schengen’ took off from Seattle, it immediately entered revenue service. During its return to Luxembourg, Cargolux spared no time testing the features of its shiny new 747-8F. It was widely-circulated that the aircraft would carry an aircraft engine on its maiden voyage, made possible with the aircraft’s nose-loading door.
We join Cargolux and Boeing in celebrating the delivery, with a few videos from our archives:
First, a 747-8F landing at SEA and taxiing to the cargo apron.
Second, a short video showing how Cargolux loads and unloads cargo moving through Seattle: