In just a few weeks, Lufthansa Cargo’s first 777 freighter will enter service alongside the existing MD-11F fleet that has defined the German carrier’s fleet since 2005 (when the carrier’s 747 classic freighters were retired). The aircraft, registered D-ALFA, is soon to depart Everett for a high-profile welcome in Frankfurt.
Though the 777 debuted in 1994, it had never been part of Lufthansa’s overall fleet until the carrier decided to order five 777Fs in May, 2011. Earlier this fall, Lufthansa announced that it will also incorporate the upcoming 777-X into its passenger fleet, announcing that it will become the launch customer for the 777-9, a larger, even more efficient evolution of the popular 777-300ER. In March, Lufthansa Group also purchased six 777-300ERs for subsidiary Swiss International Airlines. Though it hasn’t previously operated the 777, Lufthansa Cargo isn’t entirely unfamiliar with it – Aerologic, a joint venture between Lufthansa and DHL, has a fleet of eight 777Fs.
For some time, there was speculation about whether the new 777Fs were replacements for the MD11F or ordered for growth – but in late August, the carrier announced that at least two MD-11Fs will be retired in the coming months.
Lufthansa Cargo’s MD-11F fleet has three subtypes -14 new build freighters, 2 ex-Varig conversions, and two ex-Alitalia conversions which differ in minor details from the other conversions due to the configuration they were originally ordered in (smaller lower deck doors, for example). These latter aircraft are to be retired soon, though specific end dates for their operations have not been announced. Lufthansa officials have commented that these aircraft will likely be sold for spares.
Initial routes for the 777F will include (from Frankfurt):
– Atlanta (3x weekly)
– Chicago (2x weekly)
– New York (1x weekly)
As well as, beginning in December:
– Frankfurt-Indianapolis-Los Angeles-Frankfurt (1x weekly)
– Frankfurt-Toronto-Houston-Manchester-Frankfurt (2x weekly)
– Frankfurt-Chicago-Los-Angeles (1x weekly)
With the 777F’s substantial range and payload capabilities, and advantages over the MD-11F, it is likely that Europe-Asia routes will follow.