Is this the coolest freighter livery ever?

If you want to be completely accurate about it, Cargolux celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary on either 4 March or 10 March of this year, depending on whether you count the starting point as the formal founding of the airline (4 March 1970) or the first flight (10 March 1970).

So 28 September is a few months past the official date, but that is when Cargolux took delivery of a 747-8F featuring a special livery to mark its forty-five years in the air.

And what a livery it is! Created by Belgian Cartoonist (and air freight geek) Phillippe Cruyt, it is like nothing we have ever seen before – a cutaway illustration of what would be inside the plane if it had been loaded by a logistics historian under the supervision of Dr. Seuss. Storks delivering babies, a shipment of llamas (one of which is spitting in the caretaker’s face), a cartoon stagecoach out of the American Wild West, a space capsule, race horses and race cars… Anything and everything a freighter aircraft might carry.

Including a giraffe.

Yes, apparently you can put a giraffe in a 747-8F if you have him stand at the very back where his long neck can rise up into the tail fin.

But enough words. Here are a few pictures to let you see for yourself what Mr. Cruyt has created. Below the pictures we include a brief timeline showing Cargolux’s development from 1970 when it launched its first flight with a Canadair CL-44  to the present, when it operates a twenty-five unit freighter fleet made up of thirteen 747-8Fs and twelve 747-400Fs (two -400ERFs, nine -400Fs, and two -400BCFs), with one more 747-8F on order.

We start with Cargolux’s very first freighter, a Canadair CL-44:

Cargolux’s first freighter, a Canadair CL-44

And here are two shots of the latest member of the Cargolux family:



And, for those interested, here is a brief timeline of Cargolux’s history (provided by the carrier).

1970: Cargolux Airlines International is founded by Luxair, Loftleiðir Icelandic, the Salén Shipping Group and private Luxembourg interests.

1974: The maintenance division of Loftleiðir Icelandic is integrated into Cargolux, whose staff increased from 80 to 180 over night.

1978: The final CL-44 is phased out. Cargolux now operates an all-jet fleet.

1979: Boeing delivers Cargolux’s first B747-200F, the second one arrives a year later.

1983: Cargolux’s CHAMP (Cargo Handling And Management Planning) computer system is introduced.

1984: The last DC-8 freighter is sold, while a third 747-200F is added to the fleet in 1986.

1988: Cargolux ranks among the 15 largest cargo carriers in the world, measured in freight tonne kilometers flown.

1990: Cargolux celebrates its 20th anniversary with an order for three new Boeing 747-400 freighters.

1993: With the delivery of the first two B747-400 freighters, Cargolux becomes the first airline in the world to operate this state-of-the-art aircraft.

1995: Cargolux celebrates its 25th anniversary. The fleet of modern 747-400 freighters is steadily expanded over the coming years; the 16th and last unit is handed over in 2008.

2005: Cargolux and Boeing announce the development of a new, advanced version of the 747 freighter, later to become the 747-8 series. Cargolux is a launch customer for this new 747 type with an initial order for 10 aircraft. The company later orders five more 747-8Fs.

2009: The Cargolux Maintenance Division moves into its new maintenance hangar that offers modern facilities and space for two 747/A380-sized aircraft. Cargolux enters into a strategic partnership in Italy to create Cargolux Italia for intercontinental all-cargo services from Milan’s Malpensa airport.

2011: Qatar Airways takes a 35% equity interest in Cargolux, but decided in November 2012 to sell its stake. The State of Luxembourg acquires these shares on an interim basis. Some six years after signing the initial order, Cargolux is taking delivery of its first two Boeing 747 8 freighters on 19 and 21 September.

2014: Cargolux achieves a number of crucial goals, including the conclusion of a commercial cooperation agreement with HNCA, who acquire 35% of the Cargolux shares and the successful introduction of services to and from Cargolux’s new hub in China, Zhengzhou.

2015: Cargolux celebrates its 45th anniversary. The airline operates the largest fleet in its history and routinely records one of the highest daily aircraft utilization rates in the industry. Cargolux now operates seven weekly frequencies between Luxembourg and Zhengzhou and introduces its first dedicated transpacific service between Zhengzhou and Chicago.

Get more air cargo insights at the 2015 Cargo Facts Symposium, Oct. 26-28 in Miami. Click here for details.

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