Leipzig-based AeroLogic, a 50/50 joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo, announced today that it will begin operating an eleventh 777F in January 2019. Lufthansa Cargo will lease the aircraft from Boeing Capital and plans to market the freighter’s capacity independently of DHL Express, further diversifying AeroLogic’s operational model.
For Lufthansa Cargo, adding a 777F operated by AeroLogic suggests the carrier is looking to expand its freighter operations at Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ), where the JV carrier is based. LH Cargo’s current fleet of five 777Fs and twelve MD-11Fs serve international destinations primarily from Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub.
Lufthansa is, however, already familiar with freighter operations at LEJ. The first eight 777Fs added to the AeroLogic fleet (delivered between May 2009 and July 2010) operate for DHL Express during the week and fly for Lufthansa Cargo on weekends. Last year, AeroLogic proved that it was not bound to this model of split Lufthansa/DHL Express operations when it added two ex-Latam Cargo 777Fs, on-lease from GECAS, and put them into service exclusively for DHL Express. Next year AeroLogic will do more of the same, but for Lufthansa.
Returning to the 777F entering the AeroLogic fleet in January, Lufthansa Cargo did not elucidate the details of the arrangement with Boeing Capital apart from clarifying that the aircraft is separate from the two 777Fs LH Cargo currently has on order with Boeing. Given the short timeframe between order and expected delivery, Cargo Facts believes Lufthansa Cargo will likely be leasing a 777F from Boeing Capital that was originally ordered by another customer and has since been deferred or canceled by the original purchaser. According to Boeing’s Customer Summary through July 2018, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways still has an outstanding order for a 777F. Given Etihad’s recent restructuring activities which included parking five A330-200Fs, Cargo Facts would not be surprised if Etihad does not take delivery of this sixth freighter.
With another 777F in the pipeline, the German carrier is well on its way to renewing its fleet. In May of this year, the Lufthansa Group finalized an order with Boeing for two 777Fs, with deliveries to Lufthansa Cargo expected in February and March 2019. Both of these aircraft will be based at Frankfurt am Main (FRA). Although these two incoming freighters are expected to replace older MD-11Fs in Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet, the carrier has said that it may choose to continue operating the MD-11Fs as long as the air cargo market justifies the operating cost.
Learn more about the future of widebody freighters on 10-12 October at Cargo Facts Symposium, where a roundtable panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactssymposium.com.