by Trevor Williams | February 15, 2010
Lufthansa Cargo has added a new Boeing 777 freighter to its weekly cargo service between Atlanta and Frankfurt, Germany.
The 777 is operated by AeroLogic GmbH, a joint company owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG's cargo unit and Deutsche Post DHL's express unit. The plane made its maiden voyage out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Feb. 7.
The impact of the new 777 on Lufthansa's overall cargo volume in Atlanta will be modest, said Nils Haupt, a Lufthansa Cargo spokesman, in an e-mail interview with GlobalAtlanta. Lufthansa Cargo already operates four MD-11 freighters from Atlanta each week and carries cargo on its daily passenger flight to Frankfurt.
But the 777's size and fuel efficiency expand the company's options, Mr. Haupt said. Seven feet longer than the older MD-11, the 777 can carry about eight more tons of freight using less fuel. It can also handle items too large for the MD-11.
"A couple of the items that we have identified in the market for transporting [from Atlanta] are generators and larger aircraft engines that currently do not fit on the MD-11," Mr. Haupt said.
With four delivered in 2009 and and an additional four expected for delivery this year, AeroLogic operates the world's largest fleet of Boeing 777 freighters.
Atlanta airport officials said the Lufthansa expansion is an example of Hartsfield-Jackson's growing importance as a North American cargo hub.
Hartsfield was named the world's top cargo airport at the Air Cargo World conference in Munich, Germany, last year.
As international trade slowed throughout 2009, cargo activity took a steep fall, but signs of recovery are emerging.
"We are definitely seeing a rise recently in cargo business to and from the Atlanta market," said Warren Jones, aviation development manager at Hartsfield.
Lufthansa Cargo views 2010 with measured optimism.
"We expect a year with higher demand and better business figures than 2009," Mr. Haupt said. "But we have to keep in mind that the air cargo industry has lost [the equivalent of] four years of growth. We do not see 2010 being the year of full recovery, but as a promising step back to profitability and sustainable growth."