Lufthansa Cargo eyes replacing MD-11F fleet, predicts no growth in 2012

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Published: January 31, 2012

Lufthansa Cargo MD-11. By Rob Finlayson

Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) is considering replacing its fleet of 18 BoeingMD-11Fs and will decide by 2014 which aircraft to go with, LHC chairman and CEO Karl-Ulrich Garnadt told ATW in Seoul, South Korea.

“We know we have to order more [Boeing] 777Fs and there is no other option,” Garnadt said. LHC finalized an order for five 777 freighters valued at $ 1.35 billion last spring ( ATW Daily News, May 20, 2011 ).

Garnadt said he expects no growth in 2012. “Currently we are 10% down compared to last year. The demand is much weaker,” he said.

LHC’s 2012 profitability outlook was strong until last fall when Frankfurt Airport (FRA) announced its decision to ban night flights from Oct. 30, 2011. The ban, which affected 10 LHC nighttime slots in its winter schedule, cost the carrier €20 million ($ 26.4 million) in 2011 ( ATW Daily News, Nov. 24, 2011 ).

Garnadt said if the court does not lift the ban, the carrier stands to lose €40 million in 2012. He said LHC had planned to lease two more freighters for the coming summer schedule but has “axed” those plans. “If this scenario continues to go in the wrong direction, then we [will] start to replace some MD-11Fs with the first 777s instead expanding our fleet,” he said.

Garnadt said that if the court reverses the ban, the carrier will “switch some important night flights [back] to FRA from July.” He said that 50% of LHC’s business is high-value express cargo.

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