Aerologic launch not likely before end of 2009

Delays in delivery of its 777 freighters will almost certainly put back the start of operations for Aerologic to the latter end of 2009, Lufthansa Cargo has conceded.

The cargo airline, a joint venture between the German carrier and DHL, was supposed to get its first two 777-200LRFs in the second quarter of next year, with two more following in the fourth quarter. A date of April 2009 was originally mooted for the start of operations.

But Dr Andreas Otto, Lufthansa Cargo’s executive board member for product and sales, says it is still discussing with Boeing when the first freighters will be delivered, with delays of at least “a few weeks” expected. Privately, Lufthansa Cargo officials say the delay will be at least three months, however, and even Otto admits that the carrier will not add significantly to Lufthansa capacity in 2009.

Despite the delays – caused by the recently-ended Boeing machinists strike – Otto insists that all the “key project issues” are on track at Aerologic, with the first pilots already recruited, and the network due to be finalised by the end of the year.

He says the joint venture will not be affected by DHL’s recent withdrawal from the US domestic market, because flights are due to be focused on routes to Asia. Service details are due to be finalised within weeks.

IMG46-2 Flights during the week will be for DHL, with Lufthansa filling any spare capacity – currently expected to be around 25 per cent of the payload. On weekends, Lufthansa will operate the freighters in its own right, and Otto says these flights would very likely come into Frankfurt, Munich or other European airports, rather than DHL’s Leipzig hub.