P2F conversion of first LH leased A321 has begun
Dresden, Germany-based aircraft converter Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) has announce that reconstruction works on the first A321-200 passenger aircraft on behalf of U.S. lessor and owner BBAM has begun. While EFW developed the conversion program, is is carried out by its stakeholder ST Engineering in its MRO facility in Singapore, as confirmed by EFW spokeswoman Anke Lemke to CargoForwarder Global. Structural changes on the second A321-200 will commence in early 2022 enabling LH Cargo to utilize both freighter aircraft in the coming year. As reported by CFG (https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2021/07/07/lufthansa-cargo-enhances-fleet-to-match-ecommerce-flow/) after conversion, the A321 P2F offers a payload of 28 tons and can fly fully loaded up to 3,500 km.
Although officially belonging to Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet, both aircraft will be operated by sister company Lufthansa City Line, predominantly due to cost reasons. They will be based in Frankfurt.
It is the first time that LH Cargo utilizes smaller freighters, complementing their long haul B777F units. The fleet decision is a response to the burgeoning e-commerce business which is forecast achieving annual growth rates of 20% in average until 2025 or even after.
BBMI is a long-time customer of EFW that has placed conversion orders before. In addition to the 2 aircraft mentioned above, another major order from San Francisco-headquartered BBMA is now imminent, according to information obtained by CFG. Details on this are to be announced by EFW and BBMI on Monday (16AUG21) in a joint press release.
Cargo Figures Delight BRU
Air freight is currently the busiest and most profitable source of income for Zaventem Airport in Brussels. According to latest stats, 490,655 tons were handled at BRU in H1 of 2021, versus 361,209 tons a year before. So freight enjoyed a remarkable 35.8% leap year-over-year. The growth is provided by four main contributors: full freighter flights (+26%), integrator services (+16%), trucking (45%, and freight consignments stowed in the cabins of pax aircraft (‘preighters’), a segment that shot through the roof (+155%).
New routes from Asia are a major contributor to this steady growth, and Asia remains the most important region for cargo traffic and freight flows, followed by North America and Africa, according to the airport management.
Belgium is a country that is home to many pharmaceutical producers and globally demanded medical goods. It is therefore no surprise that many vaccines, 210 million doses in total, were processed at the airport in H1 of 2021 and flown out of BRU to international destinations. These shipments will continue unabated, confirmed the airport management in a release.
In contrast to cargo, the passenger segment, which was hit extremely hard by the pandemic, still has a long way to go until regaining full recovery. In H1 2021, 3.2 million passengers landed or departed at BRU, compared to 4,9 m in the first half of 2020 (-34.8%). Nevertheless, an upward trend is also evident here. Comparing the first two half-years of 2021 with 2019, the decline in passenger numbers has almost halved.
Etihad Reports Strong Cargo Growth
… but is not back to pre-corona levels yet. All in all, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier has returned to 90% of the volumes flown before the outbreak of the pandemic. In H1 2021, 365,000 tons (+44%) were recorded, and a 56 percent year-on-year increase in freight revenue ($0.8 billion).
The fact that the tonnage flown in 2019 has not yet been reached or even surpassed, despite high demand for air transports, is due to the ongoing restriction of the number of passenger flights, meaning that part of Etihad’s belly capacity is not yet available for the market.
Currently, the Arabian airline services 72 network destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Its active fleet of 65 aircraft operate 430 weekly rotations, in addition to charter flights which service demand across non-network destinations.
“Etihad Cargo has maintained network operations throughout the pandemic and provided appropriate capacity to cater for demand on key routes, which has resulted in a significant increase in tonnage being carried across the global network,” explained Martin Drew, Senior Vice President Sales & Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group. The manager went on to say: The commitment to expanding operations and provision of additional support to customers where there have been capacity shortages has seen Etihad Cargo carrying more on fewer routes than pre-pandemic. During the coming months, capacity growth is expected to continue, supported by the reintroduction of Etihad Airways passenger flights.”
Year-to-date, Etihad Cargo has operated over 200 charter flights to 30 destinations not serviced through its network, 20% of which were on behalf of the UAE Government.
Last week, Etihad reported a core operating loss for the first half of 2021, without delivering any specifics. Passenger revenue went down by 68% y-o-y from formerly US$1bn as the highly contagious C-19 Delta variant emerged, leading to an increase in the spread of the virus, which has resulted in slowing down passenger booking.
E-Commerce Hits New Heights at LEJ
For years, Leipzig/Halle Airport has been reporting dynamic cargo growth rates months after months, becoming one of the most dynamic gateways for air freight shipments. This trend continued unabated in H1, 2021, shown by the latest traffic figures. According to stats, volumes increased by 18.9% in comparison with the same period in the previous year, totaling almost 900,000 tons from January to July. The upward trend continued in July when 133,873 tons were handled, up 9.1% year-over-year. Most of the volumes handled can be attributed to top dog DHL Express, who established its world hub in Leipzig/Halle after the authorities okayed 24/7/365 operations of cargo aircraft – a rare privilege in the German airport landscape. Lately, online retailer Amazon also contributed substantially to the throughput after setting up a sorting and distribution center comprising 20,000 sqm.
All in all, 82 freight airlines fly to the airport and serve a network of routes, which covers 271 destinations worldwide. The airport registers as many as 1,300 take-offs and landings for freight traffic every week.
More than 10,800 people are employed at Leipzig/Halle Airport or at companies and public authorities based there. This figure includes about 8,200 working in freight handling, at cargo airlines or standing on the payroll of logistics companies or local freight forwarding agents.
Adani Group takes Majority Stake in BOM
Little noticed outside India, the Adani Group is emerging as a dominant airport operator on the subcontinent. In July, it took over a majority 74% stake in operator Mumbai Airport Limited (MIAL), a joint venture between the Airports Authority of India and GVK Industries. In a tweet, Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani stated: “We are delighted to take over management of the world class Mumbai International Airport. The Adani Group will build an airport ecosystem of the future for business, leisure and entertainment. We will create thousands of new jobs.” With Mumbai now included in its assets, the second largest in the country after Delhi, the Adani Group has become India’s biggest airport operator with 8 airports belonging to its portfolio. Following the closure of the deal, the Group now handles almost a quarter of India’s air traffic and “will now also control 33% of India’s air cargo traffic,” the company said in a release.
Acquiring 74 per cent in MIAL gives Adani’s control of Navi Mumbai Airport - the upcoming second airport in Mumbai in which MIAL also holds a 74 per cent stake. Construction work on Mumbai’s second airport commenced in September of 2020 and it is scheduled to be completed in 2024.
Frankfurt’s Cargo Bonanza Continues
In July, freight traffic at Rhine-Main Airport continued its stark growth despite the ongoing shortage of lower deck capacity provided by passenger airlines. Last month, freight throughput (comprising cargo and airmail) leaped by 30% year-on-year, reaching 196,223 metric tons. Compared to July 2019, cargo was up 9.8%. Aircraft movements climbed by almost 80% year-over-year to 27,591 landings and takeoffs.
Cargo traffic in Frankfurt continued its growth momentum, despite the ongoing shortage of belly capacity provided by passenger aircraft. In July 2021, FRA’s cargo throughput (comprising airfreight and airmail) jumped by 30.0 percent year-on-year to 196,223 metric tons. Compared to July 2019, cargo was up 9.8 percent. Aircraft movements climbed by 79.5 percent year-on-year to 27,591 takeoffs and landings. Accumulated maximum takeoff weights (MTOWs) rose by 68.5 percent to just under 1.7 million metric tons in July 2021.
Passenger demand also gained speed, increasing remarkably 115.8% compared to July 2020. However, the operator stresses that this figure is based on a low benchmark value recorded in July 2020, when there was hardly any pax traffic amid rising coronavirus infection rates.
The airports belonging to the Fraport Group, and managed by the operator, also continued their upward trend in July 2021. Accounted for are Fortaleza and Porto Alegre in Brazil, Lima in Perú, Turkish Antalya Airport, St. Petersburg in Russia, Chinese Xi’an Airport, and the Bulgarian twin airports Varna and Burgas. At the 14 Greek regional airports managed by Fraport, total traffic rose to about 3.6 million passengers in July 2021.
Compiled by: Heiner Siegmund
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