The huge profit of €1.5 bn adjusted ebit made by Lufthansa Cargo in fiscal 2021, has apparently whetted its appetite for further capacity growth. According to CEO, Dorothea von Boxberg, Lufthansa Cargo is eager to add more freighters to its fleet. This concerns both long-haul aircraft and smaller freighters to serve regional routes, she said. The executive did not exclude that some additional freighters, once obtained, could also fly in the colors of AeroLogic, Lufthansa Cargo’s and DHL Express’ joint venture (50/50%).
A350F might become an option
Ms. von Boxberg made the fleet announcement during a virtual press briefing on Friday (04MAR22), responding to questions raised by CargoForwarder Global concerning the carrier’s future fleet strategy. “We are looking at both: additional B777Fs, and the new Airbus A350F,” she announced. In the case of the A350F, it would be a paradigm shift because Lufthansa Cargo has been a loyal Boeing customer over the years, as demonstrated by its uniform fleet of Triple Seven freighters which succeeded the MD-11Fs produced by McDonnell Douglas and acquired by Boeing in 1996.
First A321P2F flight ante portas
But already in the case of adding smaller freighters to the fleet to serve regional routes, Lufthansa Cargo has opted in favor of Airbus instead of Boeing, and leased two A321P2F. The first of the two aircraft will take off from Frankfurt on 15MAR22, displaying the crane on its hull, while the second variant is scheduled to follow in July. Each aircraft can carry 28t per flight and accommodate 24 pallets, well surpassing the volumes fitting in the lower decks of Lufthansa’s single-aisle passenger fleet. Ms. von Boxberg left open whether more A321P2F will be leased by her company. This all depends on market demand, she said. She expects forwarders, integrators, postal operators, and suppliers from the booming e-commerce sector, to be particularly interested in the capacity of this aircraft.
Subsidiaries contributed to the profit
Commenting on the outstanding annual results, which were already made public on Thursday, CEO von Boxberg attributed contributions of 79 million euros to subsidiaries such as Jettainer, time:matters, the Chinese ground handler PACTL, and Heyworld. Main drivers were the exceptional growth of e-commerce during the pandemic, leading to a widening gap between global demand and supply, combined with grave maritime shipping congestions which prompted a shift from ocean to air. “These disturbances are not yet over,” she stated. A hint indicating that Lufthansa Cargo's revenues will continue to flow in the months ahead. Especially as more lower deck capacity marketed by Lufthansa Cargo is now coming into the market from parent passenger company, Lufthansa German Airlines, due to the revival of the travel business.
Southern routes hurt Lufthansa Cargo but are without alternative
Turning to the closure of airspace resulting from Putin’s war against the Ukraine, and the consequences for Lufthansa Cargo, she said that circumventing Russia via southern routes prolongs each flight by between 1.5 to 2 hours. This requires more fuel, which reduces uplift capacity by roughly 10%. Hence, air transport becomes more expensive, and additional CO2 is emitted. This is detrimental to the climate goals set by the carrier. “99% of our greenhouse gas emissions are flight-related,” she noted, and hard to compensate by ground measures.
She offered Ukrainians fast and non-bureaucratic logistics support by trucking relief supplies free of charge on road feeder services operating on behalf of Lufthansa Cargo.
Asked about the feasibility of cargo flights taking off from Europe via Alaska to Japan, Korea, and on to China, she said that these were “an option, but southern routes make more sense.”
In 2022, Lufthansa Cargo is pursuing ambitious targets. “We want to become the most customer-centric, most digital, and most sustainable carrier,” Ms. von Boxberg announced. As far as eAWBs are concerned, the carrier is almost there. From 27MAR22, Lufthansa Cargo will only accept shipments traveling with an electronic Air Waybill. For a transitional period, however, paper-based AWBs will still be accepted, which will then be digitalized upon arrival of the goods.
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