Lufthansa’s new freighter to fly aid for Ukraine

Lufthansa’s new freighter

One of the first missions of Lufthansa’s new A321 medium-haul freighter will be to fly aid cargo to Poland, the carrier’s cargo chief revealed at a livestream event to launch the new aircraft on March 15.

Chair of the executive board and chief executive Dorothea von Boxberg said that the flight was only one of a number of fundraising and aid efforts, which also included raising funds and free transport on the Lufthansa road feeder system to Poland.

Speaking before the converted first departure of the aircraft – which has been christened Hello Europe – on a service to Dublin, the carrier’s chief commercial officer, Ashwin Bhat said that the plane would provide Lufthansa with more flexibility. It could, he said, be used for charter services or even ACMI leasing deals.

A second freighter is expected to enter service in late summer. Both will be operated under a wet lease agreement by Lufthansa CityLine, with Lufthansa Cargo flight numbers.

Lufthansa says the twin-engine Airbus A321 is one of the most versatile aircraft in its class, able to carry up to 24 containers or pallets and offering fast loading and unloading times. The initial route network will be centered on Frankfurt and will also cover Manchester, Dublin, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Malta and Tunis, with Cairo joining the network on March 29.

Lufthansa has ordered a fleet of 50 suitable containers but will lease units for the time being.

Ashwin Bhat said that further destinations would be added to the network when a second aircraft joins the fleet in August, but these would depend on customer demand.

The new aircraft would allow Lufthansa to cater to the fast-growing e-commerce sector partner at McKinsey, Travel, Logistics & Transport Infrastructure, Dr Ludwig Hausmann told the livestream event.

He said that with the cross-border e-commerce market expected to grow to $1-2bn by 2025, there was opportunity for medium haul freighters like the A321F. They would, he predicted, “play a huge role.”

Until now, most airfreight had been intercontinental, he said, but the e-commerce market would be different, he said, with a much greater emphasis on intracontinetal freight. “Narrowbody freighters could come into play,” he said, and traditional cargo carriers could fill an important niche, offering a lower cost service than the integrators while offering faster deliveries than was possible by truck.

The A321 had the added advantage that it was one of the most environmentally-friendly freighter aircraft in the sky.