As part of their initiative ‘say hello around the world’ Lufthansa Cargo has named one of their 15 MD-11Fs “Merhaba Turkey” (Hello Turkey). The freighter and its two pilots Fokko Doyen and Tim Holderer were given a very warm welcome upon arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport last week where the ceremony for the “D-ALCE” registered aircraft took place.
What a magnificent sight: A group of dancers dressed in beautifully decorated Turkish attire, dancing to rhythmic drumbeats and the tunes of a flute swirling around the Ataturk Airport apron – it
was a very traditional and extremely emotional reception given to Lufthansa Cargo’s aircraft and the crew.
The impressive show on the ground, managed and performed by LH Cargo’s local Turkish employees was followed by the real highlight of the event at the top of a gangway – the naming ceremony. First, an Imam blessed the aircraft and then Orhan Birdal, the Director General and Chairman of the Board of Turkey’s State Airports Authority sprinkled water on the name of the freighter, blessing the plane and wishing “Merhaba Turkey” always safe flights and happy landings.
This, however, was only the official part of a graceful event that ended around midnight on the roof of the warehouse. There, Lufthansa Cargo’s 18 person staff at Istanbul station had put up a big tent to celebrate a local Octoberfest together with their 70-plus guests.
Quite a tasty experience for the invitees who were served a combination of pretzels, kebab and cabbage at a dinner with a variety of beers and wines to chose from. While the wining and dining was in full swing, “Merhaba Turkey” was pushed back to continue its journey to Tel Aviv, cheered by the attendees that bade it farewell, while some of the guests started dancing a polonaise in the tent to typical Bavarian music, loudly encouraged by others.
More aircraft to be named
For many, Istanbul’s joyful party on top of a warehouse must have been the most unusual Octoberfest they ever had been to so far.
The IST event has been quite a challenge for the carrier’s staff at Mumbai where in the coming months the next naming ceremony for a Lufthansa freighter will take place for sure.
“Merhaba Turkey” is the carrier’s sixth all-cargo aircraft bearing a name. The others are: “Good Day, USA” – “Jambo Kenya” – “Ni Hao, China” – Olá Brazil” (all Triple Seven freighters) and “Konishiwa Japan” (MD-11F).
Twelve more are to follow if the current fleet of nineteen freighters is to be maintained.
Tunis on the map
In addition, LH Cargo announced integrating the Tunisian capital Tunis in its network which will be served once a week with MD-11F. Tunis is the carrier’s fourth freighter destination in Africa, after Johannesburg, Nairobi and Lagos (since Sept.) in Nigeria. According to Hermann Zunker, Africa is a future growth market that is becoming increasingly important for his airline. "Tunisia has become one of the most competitive countries in Africa. “Strong imports of consumer goods as well as growing demand for exports to the automotive and textile industries, above all, are continuing to increase the need for air cargo," states the carrier’s Director Africa.
In Latin America LH Cargo announced reintroducing Bogotá into its network. In the Colombia capital, fresh goods, such as flowers, make up the majority of the shipments.