Lufthansa's maiden Airbus A321 freighter flags off its happy landings in e-commerce
With this move, Lufthansa Cargo plans to tap into the burgeoning e-commerce segment by adding short, medium-haul freighters within Europe and other select destinations to offer same-day and other eCommerce solutions to its customers
Lufthansa Cargo on Tuesday flagged off the carrier's inaugural flight of its narrowbody services using the converted Airbus A321F from a rainy Frankfurt to Dublin, Ireland.
According to Dorothea von Boxberg, who is the Chairperson of the Executive Board and CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, the decision by the German flag carrier to move into this segment was taken less than a year ago. Lufthansa Cargo is slated to use these converted twinjets on its short and medium-haul network and the German cargo airline has reportedly allowed its customers to make bookings at the start of March itself.
Ahead of the aircraft's maiden flight on Tuesday, von Boxberg harked back to the carrier's recent history and said that the carrier had come a long way from flying nightly operations with bags of mail on passenger seats until the services were discontinued in the 2000s. Buoyed by the unceasing demand coming from the e-commerce sector, the launch of the first A321 F signals that the carrier is getting into pure-play freight operations geared toward fulfilling this growing segment.
She added, "Today is the day where we start the 'pure-play freighter operations' on the continental network. We see that there is an increased demand from customers in Europe for fast connections and that's what air freight is always about. It's about connecting these economies very fast. For example, it (the routes) could be from Nordics or from Great Britain, somewhere to Mainland Europe, or from Frankfurt all the way to Madrid or Lisbon- so it's the longer routes that need faster transport for some goods. And the one segment that is growing very fast is the e-commerce segment and others, for example, spare parts and other very time-sensitive goods."
Lufthansa Cargo also fills the belly holds of Lufthansa, of Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings Discover, and the Sun Express with cargo and that is also where the cargo carrier first began with delivering e-commerce shipments. Von Boxberg added, "As we worked with large e-tailers, we realized that the little space that we have in the belly hold on a continental aircraft is just not enough for e-commerce and that is why we went ahead with the decision of moving into this short and medium-haul network on the continental fleet."
Lufthansa Cargo has in fact teamed up with a sister concern of the Group called Lufthansa CityLine to tap into this new segment and start their cargo operations.
Lufthansa Cargo Chief Commercial Officer and member of the Board- Ashwin Bhat who spoke at the event mentioned that the second freighter aircraft is due for a launch in August this year and the segment will also serve destinations like Istanbul, Malta, Manchester, Tel-Aviv, and Tunis. He said that the segment will also offer charters and initially it is expected to serve two/three times a week.
Speaking on sustainability being an important component of doing business, von Boxberg added, "We try to offer our customers the solution that produces the least CO2, so we always try to keep the CO2 footprint the smallest always. On a long-haul fleet that's already happening, as we only fly the 777 fleet and that is the most CO2 efficient fleet flying now. The same is now true for the A321freighter. In terms of CO2 footprint per kilogram transported, it is again the most sustainable way of flying and we are very proud to offer this solution to our customers."
Lufthansa CityLine officials mentioned at the event that the aircraft was readied in a matter of seven months in Singapore where it transitioned from a 200-seater aircraft into a full-blown freighter that could carry up to 28 tonnes and it was later brought to Frankfurt in time for its maiden launch.