Lufthansa Cargo and Deutsche Post subsidiary DHL are on the brink of founding a new cargo airline. The provisional name of the project, that has been secretly discussed between both enterprises since a number of months,is “NewCo” (New Company).
According to internal sources it will be a 50/50 joint venture, headed by Lufthansa Cargo manager Thomas Papke and starting operations from 2009 onwards. By then the fi rst freighters of a fl eet of ten aircraft are expected to be deployed. “We are presently evaluating both the B777F and B747-400ERF respectively the B747-400F”, said a highranking manager close to the project.
He added that it is still undecided whether the freighters will be purchased or leased by “NewCo”. Both options are viable as well as – alternatively – a mix model of leased andnewly-bought cargo aircraft.
The operational home base of the future fl eet will be the German airport of Leipzig/Halle (LEJ), where DHL presently is building a huge sorting centre for express shipments, which is set to become operational by next fall with the commencing of the winterschedule.
At that time, LH Cargo will also shift their Cologne fl ights to the East German airport to offer shippers and agents up to 21 weekly departures to the US, Middle East, the Indian Subcontinentand Far East (see next story). On 18 of the 21 Leipzig services, LH Cargo and DHL will share the capacity on the MD-11F. The remaining three weekly fl ights out of LEJ are exclusively operated by Lufthansa Cargo, targeting Istanbul, Seoul and Atlanta. The imminent creation of the “NewCo” cargo carrier, means a further step in deepening the already close relationship between the two companies.
With offsprings like Florida-based LifeConEx or the Aerologic GmbH (both 50/50 percent) which manages the intercontinental route joint venture on behalf of DHL and Lufthansa Cargo, the Deutsche Post’s express subsidiary has become Lufthansa Cargo’s most important partner among the top ten agents worldwide.
However, the “NewCo” pact has not been inked yet by the parties involved.“We’ve settled the basic issues of thisdeal but there remain a number ofdetails and questions that we still haveto resolve,” said an insider. One ofthe open issues is the future of theintercontinental route joint ventureand the question is what happens withLufthansa Cargo’s six MD-11Fs onwhich both partners presently sharecapacity, after “NewCo” takes off?
Will they maintain their role as servants of two masters and be based at Leipzig/Halle also after 2009, or alternatively be fully integrated once again in LH Cargo’s fl eet? These are only some of a number of questions the air freight community is waiting to be answered by the partners concerned. – Heiner Siegmund