Lufthansa Puts its Money on Freighters for the Future

This was probably the main message that Peter Gerber, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo gave to the audience of the last monthly meeting for this year of the Air Cargo Club Germany (ACD) in Frankfurt on the 9th of December.
Tradition has it that the LH Cargo management always has the floor at the year end ACD meeting in order to review the closing year and give insight into the German national carrier plans for the coming year.
Mr Gerber showed the ACD members an interesting presentation on LH Cargo’s future plans which are aimed at ensuring that the carrier remains as the top freight airline for the future.

LH Cargo’s CEO Peter Gerber presented his carrier’s future plans to the ACD members /  source: hs
LH Cargo’s CEO Peter Gerber presented his carrier’s future plans to the ACD members / source: hs

Time is money!
This is a fact when comparing airfreight to seafeight.
Peter Gerber made it clear that there are still very many commodities being transported around the world whereby airfreight, despite its higher cost, is the only viable means of transport. His comparision of four weeks by seafreight between Germany and Korea at around €0.05/kg compared to airfreight at €2.50/kg plays little role for commodities which need high security transport or those such as the so called “Just-In-Time” shipments.

Germany, as shown in the LH presentation still holds the title as the world’s number one exporter. A stunning €202 billion of that export was moved by air in 2013.
One of Mr Gerber’s main messages to his audience was that despite continuing worldwide crises, which have been many these past ten years, is that airfreight development continues unabated.
Not always as strong as one might have wished - but with a constant upward trend.

Freighters at the forefront
Whereas as some of the world’s leading carriers have shelved plans for acquiring or operating freighters within their fleets, Lufthansa seems to be putting its money on developing and increasing freighter capacity within the organisation.
The fifth Boeing 777F will be delivered in February of next year and who knows how many more of these excellent freighters they may buy to gradually replace the older MD-11Fs still in their fleet.
The five B777Fs operated by LH Cargo along with the eight operated by AeroLogic, which can surely be used at times, when needed, as a back-up fleet for LH Cargo, offer a strong uplift capacity for the carrier. Lufthansa Cargo is rightly proud of this new cargo fleet. Aircraft which are not too large, very fuel efficient, quieter than the older generation and which carry up to 100 tons over 26 main deck and 32 lower deck positions - these seem to be the ones the airline is putting its money on for the future.

Due to the fact that various market researchers forecast only a 4% increase in belly capacity in the coming years, this highlights the need for Lufthansa to continue operating a reliable and cost efficient cargo fleet in order to be able to accommodate cargo needs for the future.

Frankfurt is for airfreight what London is for passengers!
Namely - indispensable.
This was stated by Peter Gerber when relating to the future importance of Frankfurt as the air cargo hub for Germany.
Winfried Hartmann, ACD Chairman also noted that around 50% of Germany’s airfreight shipments are handled in Frankfurt and that the main challenge at hand is to ensure that intelligent ideas are put on the table with regards to noise abatement solutions which can be realistically put into effect without endangering the airport’s position as an essential air cargo hub.

Peter Gerber echoed these sentiments when stating that it is of utmost importance that the future of FRA as an air cargo centre is guaranteed and that in his view this can only be accomplished when all parties involved “pull on the same string.”
When commenting on competition, the LH Cargo Helmsman simply stated that in order to ensure that it remains basically fair, that the same conditions must be recognized and be applied by all.

Capacity needs by 2025
Freight Tonne Kilometer (FTKT) rankings have changed dramatically since a decade ago, with mainly Middle East carriers taking the lead due to their fast growing passenger aircraft capacity on the market.
However, LH Cargo in their eyes, recognize the need for continued pure freighter capacity in the future specifically on Europe and North America sectors to the Asia Pacific regions, as in their view belly capacity on offer in the year 2025 will generally remain below that of what is needed to carry projected tonnages by this time.

In order to keep on top of this development, the LH Cargo management also continues on their road of streamlining air cargo handling product with its 2020 programme, especially within the IT-sector, quality, e-Cargo and pushing ahead with the building of the new LCCneo warehouse at FRA.
The recent cargo joint venture between LH Cargo and All Nippon Airways is seen by many as being a new direction within Lufthansa as far as future air cargo.

In this respect we look forward to Mr Gerber’s presentation to the ACD at the end of 2015.

John Mc Donagh

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