The Cargo Crane spreads its wings by deploying parent company Lufthansa’s passenger aircraft which have had their seat pallets removed in order to transport urgent consignments from China to Europe. The passenger to cargo conversions complement the carrier’s own freighter fleet’s main deck capacity. Concurrently, sister company Austrian Airlines has also turned passenger aircraft into temporary freighters to fly cargo from China and Malaysia to Vienna, Austria.
Unlike Lufthansa’s passenger division, whose activities have come to a virtual standstill, many Lufthansa Cargo employees have to work overtime these days. Due to the current bottleneck situation in air freight on trade lanes between the Far East and Europe, caused by the absence of passenger aircraft and thus the loss of lower deck capacity, airlines are tending to convert passenger jetliners into freighters. A task that is carried out by mechanics of Lufthansa Cargo and sister company Austrian Airlines, who are currently clearing the cabins and removing the seats on six passenger aircraft in order to accommodate freight there.
Six pax to cargo conversions
At Lufthansa, four aircraft will be converted over the Easter period, enabling Lufthansa Cargo to operate 35 weekly additional flights with the aircraft that, once the seats are removed, can each carry up to 30 tons of cargo in their cabins and belly holds. This allows Lufthansa Cargo to offer the market two daily flights between Frankfurt and Shanghai, and one daily roundtrip Frankfurt-Beijing. Freight capacity at Munich will also be upped through two converted A350-900s that will operate daily flights from MUC to Shanghai and Beijing.
In nearby Austria, local Lufthansa Group member Austrian Airlines will utilize a Boeing 767-300 and one of their B777-200s passenger jetliners to fly air freight from Easter onwards. The two aircraft will take off from Vienna to Shanghai (8 x week), Beijing (5 x week), Penang in Malaysia (2 x week) and Xiamen (1 x week).
Push in capacity
Thanks to the quick change of passenger aircraft to freighters, a total of 51 additional weekly cargo flights from Germany and Austria to the Far East and back will be operated by Lufthansa Cargo (35) and sister Austrian Airlines (16). This adds to the capacity of 14 Lufthansa Cargo operated Boeing 777 freighter flights per week between Frankfurt and destinations on the Chinese mainland, offering the market 1,440 tons of main deck capacity.
Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG lauded the latest activities of his company’s freight subsidiary: “Especially now, cargo flights are of the utmost importance for medical facilities, but also for manufacturers and large corporations. We are doing everything we can to maintain supply chains during this crisis and ensure that people receive sufficient supplies. This is an important part of our corporate responsibility as a leading European aviation group."
Lufthansa restructures passenger business
Otherwise, the manager has had little to be happy about these past few days. The airline is losing one million euros an hour due to the near standstill in passenger traffic leading to the grounding of 700 of its fleet of 760 passenger aircraft.
To reduce the drain of cash the Executive Board decided to introduce short time work for at least 31,000 staff employed in Germany until the end of August and tens of thousands more in other countries. Lufthansa’s global headcount totals 135,000. Further, all operational activities of its 2002 incepted, low-cost subsidiary, Germanwings will be terminated, and the passenger fleet of Lufthansa and the entire group, including Swiss, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings, will be considerably scaled down since air travel will need years to reach pre-Covid-19 levels, forecasts Mr. Spohr.
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