That the pandemic has caused all kinds of disruption, is nothing new. What is dramatic, however, is the recent move by Lufthansa to temporarily freeze all services to India. The airline is a beloved household name on both sides of the planet – and has been since 1963. Yet, recent discussions regarding imbalances in frequencies between the German carrier and its Indian peers, led to Lufthansa announcing an immediate halt to operations until 20OCT20.
Just weeks after Lufthansa Cargo welcomed its 8th B777 into the fleet and named it “Namaste India” (a name previously held by one of its retired MD11s), Lufthansa Passenger Airlines announced on 30SEP20 that it would cease all India flights until 20OCT20, in response to the Indian government not approving its October flight schedule. The Indian Government pointed out that it was according 7 flights a week (instead of the 20 that Lufthansa had planned), despite the continued disparity in comparison to the approved 3-4 flights a week for Indian carriers. German restrictions on Indian nationals wishing to travel to Germany, currently put Indian carriers at a disadvantage, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Lufthansa is urging both governments to collaborate so that a temporary travel agreement between the two countries can be established.
India freighter services still running
Lufthansa Cargo’s Vice President Asia Pacific, J. Florian Pfaff assured that cargo services would continue: "The planned passenger flight schedule of Lufthansa for October 2020 was unexpectedly rejected by Indian authorities, hence all passenger flights between September 30th and October 20th had to be cancelled. Lufthansa Cargo's freighter schedule remains unchanged and will operate as planned.
Lufthansa Cargo has been and always will be deeply committed to the Indian air freight market and its customers. Once the involved authorities agree to resume the passenger flights, Lufthansa Cargo is set to continue serving all Importers and Shippers of urgently needed goods with capacities on passenger flights in these unprecedented times as it has done for decades. Our teams around the world are doing their utmost to find alternative arrangements and to serve our customers' needs."
Lufthansa the first to resume South Africa flights
Whilst India flights are currently on hold, Lufthansa (and SWISS) are the first European airlines to service South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town), following the lifting of the six-month-long international travel ban. Bi-weekly flights will start 07OCT20, and Lufthansa will deploy 747s on the route, having confirmed that its A380s will remain in long-term storage. Good news for cargo, given that the cargo-friendly 747s will remain in the fleet for another few years, as Carsten Spohr recently stated: “They have a lot higher cargo capacity than the A380, so we thought that we have to keep them on board. The 744 will be phased out gradually over the next years.”
"¡Buenos días México!
Meanwhile, Lufthansa Cargo welcomed B777F Number 9 on 29SEP20, bringing its total B777F fleet up to 13 (four aircraft are AeroLogic joint venture capacity, based in Leipzig Airport, Germany). Registration D-ALFI arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at 11:19h, having flown for 10 hours and 10 minutes under flight number LH8145, from Everett Airport (PAE) in Washington State, USA. Its name "¡Buenos días México!" was once again a proud “hand-me-down” from its retired MD-11 predecessor with the registration D-ALCH.
Lufthansa Cargo’s CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, Peter Gerber underlined the importance of cargo on the occasion: "Especially in acute crises, air cargo secures important supply routes and thus makes a fundamental contribution to the global economy. Mastering short-term global challenges is one of our core competencies, countering long-term global challenges is our responsibility. With our new fleet we are underlining our claim to actively and sustainably combine economic and ecological efficiency."
Freighter full circle…
At 20% greater fuel efficiency and less carbon dioxide and noise emissions, the B777F is an impressive improvement on its MD-11F predecessor, of which Lufthansa Cargo still operates 6 and will be phasing out over the coming months. It also has greater cargo capacity and range and is thus more cost-efficient in operation.
The MD-11F was deployed for the same environmental and efficiency reasons back in 1998, at the time replacing the beloved B747 nose-door freighters which were retired over the years through to 2005. Yet, the pandemic has turned back time a little, and given that Lufthansa Passenger is holding on to its aging B744 passenger fleet of 13 a while longer, perhaps they, too, will end up complementing the Group’s cargo capacity as cargo-only planes?
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