Air Cargo India: Lufthansa Cargo eyeing Indian network development

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Lufthansa Cargo is eyeing up adding a new freighter frequency into Delhi to reap the rewards of the growing market by adding to the once a week service it now operates.

Speaking at a media briefing at Air Cargo India in Mumbai yesterday, the German carrier’s board member for product and sales Alexis von Hoensbroech, says it is only an option at this stage and not concrete.

Von Hoensbroech says Lufthansa Cargo still has two MD-11 still parked in the desert and adds: “Our flexibility to deploy additional freighters is fairly limited. We are looking at options and one destination is to add another frequency to Delhi.”

Other than Delhi, Lufthansa Cargo operates freighters to Hyderabad three times a week, Chennai twice a week, Bengaluru twice a week and Mumbai five times a week.

He explains the airline operates to Dhaka in Bangladesh, but it combines with Delhi and there could be an option to deploy a second weekly frequency, which would be a “natural extension”.

Last year, the carrier saw export tonnage from the Indian market rise by 5.9 per cent and imports were up 6.7 per cent. Much of the growth is from the India to North America trade lane, which Lufthansa Cargo connects through its European network.

Lufthansa Cargo is the fourth largest operator on the Europe to India trade lane, but has fallen due to the expansion of Middle Eastern airlines in India, who von Hoensbroech says are flooding the market with capacity.

As for Lufthansa Cargo’s infrastructure plans, he explains that the planned new state-of-the-art Lufthansa Cargo Centre (LCCneo) at Frankfurt Airport will be discussed again by board members.

The project was put on hold for two years in April 2015 due to financial constraints for the Lufthansa Group, but the option of building another centre is still firmly on the table.

However, another option von Hoensbroech says is to further upgrade and refurbish the existing centre, which it is constantly doing anyway.

He adds that a new centre would improve optimisation and efficiency and is the most desirable option.