Meanwhile, it’s all over town: Lufthansa Cargo is determined to phase out the last of their remaining eleven MD-11 freighters which once totaled 18 units by the end of 2020 or shortly
after, hence, much earlier as previously announced. From then on, LHC will operate a uniform fleet of Boeing 777Fs, flying either in the crane’s own traditional colors or the livery of joint
venture partner AeroLogic (code: 3S). However, this fleet swap is still pending the management’s formal okay.
Confirmed are, however, new freighter flights from Hong Kong to Cologne Bonn Airport operated by AeroLogic on behalf of integrator DHL.
Peter Gerber has been proven wrong. Last March Lufthansa Cargo’s CEO announced that the rollover of the freighter fleet will most likely take until 2024 latest. Meanwhile, that’s old hat. Due to
globally declining cargo volumes the management seems to be determined to phase out the MD-11Fs much faster, replacing their capacity with more fuel efficient and economical Triple Seven
freighters. They fly either in LH Cargo’s traditional colors or display joint venture partner AeroLogic’s livery on their hull and empennage.
3S serves two masters
Currently, LH Cargo operates seven B777Fs, two additional Triple Sevens belong to AeroLogic’s fleet but are marketed exclusively by Lufthansa Cargo. A third LH Cargo marketed but AeroLogic operated B777F (D-AALN) has just ferried from Seattle and landed in Leipzig/Halle, commencing commercial flights very soon. In total that’s ten Triple Seven freighters either self-operated by LH Cargo (7) or marketed (3) by the carrier. This boosts AeroLogic’s fleet to 14 units, with four of them flying exclusively for the integrator, three for LH Cargo. The eight remaining Triple Sevens serve basically but alternating both stakeholders (50/50%): DHL and LHC.
In the case of Lufthansa Cargo, a still open question is if the carrier will order or lease additional B777Fs to compensate the forthcoming reduction of main deck capacity after the last MD-11F has been phased out. This depends on market developments and will be decided in 2020, say people close to the case.
Numerous route swaps
Turning back to the winter schedule, a closer look reveals that both partners decided to swap some routes. This accounts for FRA-SEA-LAX serviced so far by LHC twice weekly and FRA-LAX flown once a week, deploying MD-11Fs. From now on AeroLogic will operate the flights on behalf of the cargo crane (B777Fs). Similarly, in Mexico where AeroLogic replaces LH Cargo freighters on the sector FRA-MEX-GDL operated thrice weekly and FRA-MEX-DFW serviced twice a week. These flights too, are exclusively marketed by Lufthansa Cargo. The same accounts for a weekly AeroLogic flight taking off from Frankfurt via Chennai, India to HCM City, Vietnam and back to FRA.
The above-mentioned route swaps between LHC and Aerologic are purely based on commercial considerations. According to insiders, the unit costs of AeroLogic are well below those of their joint venture partner Lufthansa Cargo.
LHC pulls freighters out of Guangzhou
On their own website, LH Cargo announces a number of other itinerary changes as of next week. Freighter flights from Frankfurt to Latin America (VCP, MVD, EZE, CWB, NAT) will be reduced from 5 weekly to 4/7 but operated by their own LHC fleet of B777Fs, replacing MD-11Fs. The change of equipment makes technical stops at Dakar, Senegal superfluous since the Triple Seven allows for a larger range compared to the MD-11F.
Further to this, LH Cargo is determined to exit their twice weekly MD-11F operated Guangzhou, China flights at the turn of the year. Again, a decision purely driven by economic considerations.
DHL strengthens CGN
In the meantime, Deutsche Post-DHL speaker Tim Rehkopf confirmed to CargoForwarder Global new freighter flights on behalf of the integrator taking off from Hong Kong to Cologne Bonn Airport, commencing on 29 October. The route will be serviced Tu, We, Th, and Sa by B777Fs, also operated by AeroLogic but painted in DHL colors. From CGN the aircraft ferry to Brussels International and fly back to their home base Leipzig/Halle Airport afterwards. The flights are operated during daytime, thus not risking being criticized by neighbors for disturbing their sleep. A delicate issue at most German and European airports.
At CGN, DHL is currently building a new sorting center of considerable size that will open its gates on 19 November. It complements similar facilities run by UPS and FedEx, strengthening Cologne-Bonn’s role as e-commerce hub.
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