Lufthansa Cargo continues to add maindeck capacity to its operation but, just as it completes its MD-11F phase-out, the German carrier will add another type to its fleet in the form of Elbe Flugzeugwerke’s (EFW) A321-200P2F.
Lufthansa Cargo told Cargo Facts that it currently plans to take delivery of the two narrowbody conversions around the end of 2021, with entry into service in early 2022.
Lufthansa is on track to become just the second major scheduled combination carrier to operate A321 freighters, after Australia-based Qantas became the launch operator of the type globally late last year.
Given the short timeline and the large backlog at EFW, Cargo Facts believes Lufthansa will be leasing the pair. The carrier only said that it is sourcing the aircraft in freighter configuration “from the external market” but declined to provide further details.
There are currently several A321s at various stages of conversion with EFW. Unit 1017 (ex-R Airlines) nearing completion in Guangzhou (CAN) is a Vallair frame that will join SmartLynx Malta; units 1195 and 1408 are in Singapore (XSP) and will rejoin the Qantas fleet as freighters; unit 1199 (ex-Ural Airlines), belonging to ST Engineering, arrived at XSP in April 2021; while unit 3504, a 2008 frame previously in operation with Lufthansa Group subsidiary Eurowings, arrived at XSP in June.
The Lufthansa Group has more than ten A321-200s that are currently parked, including some that were built in 1998, 1999 and 2000, but Lufthansa Cargo said the group does not own unit 3504.
Lessors with known A321P2F conversions on order with EFW include Vallair, ST Engineering, GTLK Europe and Keystone Holdings, as well as the unidentified lessors working with carriers like IndiGo and Azul. BBAM recently told Cargo Facts it will add more to its portfolio.
The introduction of A321P2Fs marks a return by Lufthansa Cargo to dedicated narrowbody freighters since it stopped operating the 737-300F platform in the late 1990s. Lufthansa Cargo had previously intended to streamline to an all-777F fleet by the end of this year with the withdrawal of its three remaining MD-11Fs, but the Airbus conversions will enable the carrier to serve the intra-European e-commerce market, according to CEO Dorothea von Boxberg in a release.
The pair of A321P2Fs will be operated by regional subsidiary Lufthansa CityLine, which has a fleet of around fifty A319s, E195, E190s and CRJ900s.
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