The carrier will begin operating the 777F in November on trans-Atlantic routes from Frankfurt to Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. It will take delivery of two aircraft this year, two in 2014 and one in 2015.
List price is $270 million; major airlines pay generally pay about half of list price, analysts say.
“The B777F is the most modern and most efficient freighter in the world,” said Lara Kittler, spokesperson for Lufthansa Cargo in Frankfurt. “Additionally it is less noisy, but can carry more freight, than the MD-11F. So we can profit from a lot of advantages.”
Lufthansa’s first two 777 freighters will replace its oldest MD-11 freighters. Kittler said concentrating flights on the trans-Atlantic routes will allow for more efficient use of the crews initially trained to fly the aircraft.
Boeing has taken 127 of the 777 freighters, delivering 81 of them to customers including U.S. airlines FedEx and Southern Air Transport.
Aviation consultant Scott Hamilton said the aircraft “has done reasonably well for a new freighter. It’s more economical than the 747 freighter, although it doesn’t have the payload range.” Lufthansa said the 777F with a load of 103 tons can fly 5,592 miles in ten and a half hours.
While Lufthansa Cargo is taking its first 777 freighters, its partner AeroLogic operates eight of them. AeroLogic is a joint venture between the Lufthansa Cargo and DHL Express. Lufthansa Cargo uses the capacity primarily on weekends.
Lufthansa noted that in 1972, it was the first airline to use a 747 freighter. It put a 747-200F to use in the Trans-Atlantic, with the first flight routed from Frankfurt to New York.
“With 73 tons of cargo and 1.8 tons of mail on board, the four-engine Boeing 747-200F took off on its first scheduled flight from Frankfurt to New York,” Lufthansa said, in a press release. “Four decades later, the new member of Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet only needs two engines to connect Europe with the USA or Asia.”
The International Air Traffic Association said Monday that cargo markets “remain in the doldrums.” For 2013, IATA projects growth of 0.9%, down from the previously projected rate of 1.5%.
“The ability of airlines to match cargo capacity to demand is limited by the natural growth in belly capacity that occurs as airlines respond to passenger demand,” IATA said. “As a result of this mismatch, cargo yields are expected to fall by 4.9% this year (deeper than the 2.0% decline previously projected).”
Cargo revenues are expected to total $59 billion, down $8 billion from their 2011 peak, while passenger revenues are expected to reach $565 billion, up $68 billion during the same period.
(Ted Reed - Forbes)