Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Lufthansa Cargo adds cities to new intra-European freighter network

Lufthansa Cargo is expanding its regional freighter network based at Germany’s Frankfurt airport to three destinations in southern Europe, the company said Tuesday. 

Added to the summer schedule, as of next week, are Larnaca, Cyprus; Athens, Greece; and Milan. In total, Lufthansa Cargo’s intra-European network will cover a dozen cities with more than 50 flights per week. 

The cargo subsidiary of Lufthansa Airlines (DXE: LHA) began operating short- and medium-distance routes for same-day e-commerce customers a year ago after leasing an Airbus A321 aircraft that was converted from passenger configuration to carry heavy containers in the cabin area. A second plane was added in October. Flying is outsourced to Lufthansa short-haul passenger subsidiary CityLine. 

Lufthansa Cargo, which also operates 16 large Boeing 777s on intercontinental routes, said it plans to double the size of its narrowbody fleet by late summer. 

The developments are noteworthy because Lufthansa Cargo is the 16th largest cargo airline by volume in the world, based on 2021 figures and excluding Russian carriers, and previously focused on long-haul freighter service.

The company said it will send two flights per week to Larnaca in a combined routing with Athens and one weekly flight to Milan, supporting shippers in the industrial region of northern Italy. Shipments can connect to other parts of Lufthansa’s global passenger and freighter network at the Frankfurt hub. 

Lufthansa officials say the first year of regional operations has been positively received by customers. The regional network has grown to include Birmingham, England; Dublin; London; Cairo; Istanbul; Madrid; Malta; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Tunis, Tunisia.

The A321 converted freighters combine a large amount of capacity for a narrowbody jet with fuel efficiency. The planes can carry nearly 31 tons, with 14 pallets and container positions on the main deck, plus 10 spots for small containers on the lower deck. That lower deck capability is lacking on the rival Boeing 737-800, which only accepts loose cargo.

Lufthansa Cargo posted record operating profit of $1.7 billion in 2022. The company last week said Chief Commercial Officer Ashwin Bhat would move up to CEO on April 15, replacing Dorothea von Boxberg. She was reassigned to head Brussels Airlines. 

Click here for more FreightWaves stories by Eric Kulisch.


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