Lufthansa Cargo carried 7.2 billion FTKs in 2021

Published: Thursday, April 7, 2022

Its biggest throughput in its history yielded to record revenues of EUR 3.8 billion. The cargo carrier continues to modernize its long-haul fleet, launching in March its first Airbus 321 freighter for service.

Lufthansa Cargo ended 2021 with another record revenues totaling EUR 3.80 billion, the highest so far in its history, with cargo volumes handled for the period increasing to 7.2 billion freight ton kilometers (FTKs) from 6.5 billion the previous year.

That improved its average load factor by 1.7 percentage points year-on-year to 71.0 percent, while the supply of capacity increased by 8.7 percent to 10.1 billion freight ton kilometers offered.

“We owe this result in particular to our employees, customers and partners. Together, we have managed to effectively maintain global supply chains even in times of pandemic. In addition to good revenues, the successful completion of our cost reduction program was a key factor in the good result. In 2022, we will continue to invest in customer focus, airfreight innovation and sustainability,” Dorothea von Boxberg, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, said during the company’s annual press briefing held virtually for the third year in a row.

“In 2022, Lufthansa Cargo will focus on sustainability and the ongoing decarbonization of airfreight logistics. We are pleased to welcome numerous interested parties to our sustainable aviation fuel offerings and aim to expand the use of sustainable aviation fuels with various customers. In 2022, we will also begin to equip our freighters with Sharkskin technology, which will help us save fuel. In the area of digitalization, we are working at full speed to convert to fully electronic air waybills, among other things.”

However, von Boxberg also puts customers in the mood for continuing challenges in logistics for the time being: “The issue of scarce capacity will continue to occupy us and our customers this year. With the marketing of the capacities of our first A321 freighter, which has just started, we want to offer customers new options for the ever-growing e-commerce sector, especially in the medium-haul segment. In addition, belly capacities on Lufthansa Group airlines will again increase significantly this year. We are currently examining further options to increase our capacity offering. At present, however, we also see that the situation in airfreight remains dynamic and that we have to react to developments on the world market at short notice and remain flexible.”

Last year, Lufthansa Cargo successfully implemented important projects of its corporate strategy. For example, the fleet modernization to a pure, highly efficient B777F freighter fleet was completed.

This currently comprises 15 aircraft, two of which were newly flown last year. The twin-engine Boeing 777F is considered the most efficient, modern freighter in its class. In addition, Lufthansa Cargo distributes the additional load capacities of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings Discover and SunExpress.

Sustainable aviation fuels were also a focus at Lufthansa Cargo in 2021: In addition to weekly CO2-neutral freight rotations between Europe and Asia, customers have been able to use the “Sustainable Choice” add-on service since last summer and thus have their freight transported in a CO2-neutral manner. Lufthansa Cargo also became a pilot customer for the first industrial power-to-liquid (PtL) plant to promote the development and research of synthetic PtL aviation fuel.

Lufthansa Cargo started the past financial year with positive expectations. Due to the continuing effects of the pandemic, freight capacities remained scarce worldwide despite increased demand. Marked by a noticeable cooling of the airfreight market prior to the Corona pandemic, the cargo airline had already launched a structural cost-cutting program in 2019, which is also contributing to the current result.

First A321 Lufthansa freighter lifts off for commercial flight

Lufthansa Cargo’s first Airbus 321 freighter took off for service for the first time at 16:21 (CET) on March 15, 2022.

Under flight number LH8350, the A321F, christened “Hello Europe”, took off its first flight from Frankfurt (FRA) to Dublin (DUB) before continuing to Manchester (MAN), loaded with express freight and general cargo.

The twin-engine aircraft is operated by Lufthansa CityLine. With this market launch, Lufthansa Cargo says it is responding to the continued growth in demand from the e-commerce industry and can thus offer customers even more capacity and additional fast connections.

“The addition of the medium-haul network is an important step in further opening our company to attractive business segments such as the fast-growing e-commerce sector,” von Boxberg noted. “Lufthansa Cargo can now offer its customers same-day and e-commerce solutions within Europe and to selected medium-haul destinations. The new aircraft will serve a wide range of customers and routes, both scheduled and charter. We look forward to providing much-needed capacity in the European market and further strengthening our position as the leading airfreight carrier in Europe.”

For Lufthansa CityLine, too, the operation of the A321 freighter represents a step into the future: “We have put Cargo Operations at Lufthansa CityLine on its feet in a very short time. Together with Lufthansa Cargo, we are very proud to launch this first converted A321F certified in Germany,” says Jens Fehlinger, Managing Director of Lufthansa CityLine.

With the start of operations on March 15, Lufthansa Cargo will gradually add Dublin (DUB), Manchester (MAN), Istanbul (IST), Tel Aviv (TLV), Malta (MLA) and Tunis (TUN) to its global route network by deploying the A321 freighter. In the summer schedule, the carrier will also add flights to Cairo (CAI) starting March 29. The partially new stations in the freighter network will be served two to three times a week from and to Frankfurt (FRA).

To date, Lufthansa Cargo operates a freighter fleet of currently 15 of its own B777F aircraft. The second A321 medium-haul freighter is expected to enter service in late summer. Both aircraft will be operated under a wet lease agreement by Lufthansa CityLine, each under Lufthansa Cargo’s flight number.

The Airbus A321s (A321P2F), which have been converted to freighters, offer a payload of 28 metric tons with a range of 3,500 kilometers. The conversion allows the use of standardized cargo pallets on the main deck as well. The twin-engine Airbus A321 is one of the most versatile aircraft in its class: with the ability to transport containers on the main deck, it offers fast loading and unloading, enabling highly efficient flight operations.