Luxembourg's flag carrier fleet keeps growing, comprising of 25 units now, which include three aircraft operated by subsidiary Cargolux Italy. "For the next ten years we will continue operating large freighter aircraft," assures CEO Dirk Reich on the occasion of the arrival of the aircraft at Luxembourg Findel Airport (29 Sep).
Perfect weather, a large number of invitees, media people and Cargolux employees with a beautiful Boeing 747-8F as the super star of the day: the arrival of Cargolux's brand new 25th freighter
at its new home base this morning, Findel Airport, directly from Boeing's Seattle plant after a ten hour flight - a remarkable event.
Another real attention proved to be the unique decal on the aircraft, created by Belgian cartoonist Phillippe Cruyt. Cargolux's newest fleet member, LX-VCM, named 'City of Redange-sur-Attert', is the 13th Boeing 747-8F, reducing the average age of the fleet even more.
Boeing remains confident on the long-term development of cargo
In his business outlook Boeing's VP of Marketing Randy Tinseth stressed the efficiency and environmentally friendly performance of the freighter. In comparison to its forerunner the 747-400F the 'Dash Eight' can uplift 24 additional tons per flight, making it almost 140 tons total. It is 16 percent more fuel efficient and even 30 percent quieter than the 400.
Cargo is back on track, Boeing
Regarding the cargo industry perspective Randy delivered hopeful figures. Starting in 2012, after experiencing some disappointing years, air freight traffic is on track for success again and will continue to do so over the next 20 years. He predicted an optimistic average annual increase of 4.7 percent, a figure that's pretty much in accord with previous market forecasts provided by the U.S. aircraft manufacturer.
In contrast, the outlook for the company's masterpiece 747-8F looks rather bleak with only 13 aircraft in the order books and zero backlog. However, another 20 might be added to the list should Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo convert a memorandum of understanding into confirmed orders.
Shift of capacity
In his overview Randy also pointed out the ongoing shift of capacity from all-cargo aircraft towards lower holds of passenger planes. Nevertheless he expressed his conviction that freighters - both newly produced and P2C converted - will continue playing an indispensable role for driving global business forward in the decades to come.
'Cargolux China' ante portas
Coming directly back from Seattle on board the new 747-8, helmsman Dirk Reich of Cargolux Airlines referred to a recent board meeting in Zhengzhou (China), resulting in a positive outcome regarding the inception of the intended joint venture airline in China. "We hope to start the project this year," announced Reich when addressed by the media. He went on to say that the upcoming carrier will commence flying with three 747 freighters. Around 60 percent of the traffic will be transpacific services linking Zhengzhou with destinations in North America, while the remaining 40 percent will be deployed on intra Asian routes. "We don't intend on operating within China," according to Reich. He added to this that 'Cargolux China' is only a provisional name of the upcoming joint venture and probably not the final word.
Unlikely to acquire former Jade freighters
Asked if Cargolux was interested in purchasing three Boeing 747-400 freighters from former carrier Jade (that will be auctioned soon), he said it would be unwise to close our eyes to this. "But I rate the possibility of purchasing the three aircraft as being very low," he stated. Reich also emphasized that the aircraft have been sidelined for 6 long years, ever since Shenzhen-based Jade went out of business.
When comparing Jade and (the intended) 'Cargolux China', Reich said that mistakes made in the case of Jade will not be repeated by the newcomer this time. "The key mistakes they made were having a direct competitor as co-owner of the Joint Venture and putting in mostly European managers to run the airline."
Confronted with fears of job losses at Luxembourg as result of building a second global hub at Zhengzhou, which was massively expressed by local unions of the Grand Duchy, Reich asserted that his carrier's Zhengzhou operations, utilising two aircraft permanently on this route, secures 200 jobs within Cargolux. "After initial fears the unions meanwhile seem to have realized that our Zhengzhou engagement is a win-win project to the benefit of our shareholders, our airline and the Cargolux workforce."
Cargolux passes IOSA audit
Today (1 October) CV announced having passed its fourth IOSA renewal audit with an exceptionally good result. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
During the five-day renewal audit, five experts audited Cargolux on about 850 different parameters.
In preparation for this, a team of 20 people from all concerned divisions worked for about three months to achieve the exceptional result, the carrier states.
As a member of IATA, Cargolux, like any other IATA member airline, has to pass an initial IOSA audit and subsequent renewal audits every two years.
This ensures a constant enhancement of aviation safety and is recognized by insurers and a number of aviation authorities, such as the FAA, across the world.
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel