Lufthansa Cargo warms up to Siberia

Forced to abandon Astana in Kazakhstan last June following a spat with Russian air authorities that threatened to develop into a full-blown diplomatic row, the German cargo carrier has now begun landing in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk instead, for technical stops en route between Europe and Northeast Asia. Heiner Siegmund reports fromSiberia. “The MD-11F is a very […]


Heinz Ruhnau Krasnoyarsk Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F Siberia Wolfgang Mayrhuber


Forced to abandon Astana in Kazakhstan last June following a spat with Russian air authorities that threatened to develop into a full-blown diplomatic row, the German cargo carrier has now begun landing in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk instead, for technical stops en route between Europe and Northeast Asia. Heiner Siegmund reports fromSiberia.

“The MD-11F is a very good airliner,” stated Lufthansa’s CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber at a recent press event in Leipzig/Halle. In fact, the reliability of the craft is quite remarkable and cockpit crews generally laud the plane. However, it can fly only 7,200 km nonstop if carrying maximum revenue payload of 91 tonnes and that’s not enough for long-haul routes like Frankfurt-Seoul or Leipzig/Halle- Osaka.

As a result the freighter has to land somewhere in between to get the tanks refilled with kerosene, which used take place at Astana Airport. But in October 2007 the Russian Transport Ministry suddenly protested and ‘urged’ LH Cargo to choose either Novosibirsk or Krasnoyarsk for refueling the freighters, or else the carrier would not be allowed to cross Siberian skies any longer. In retaliation Germany threatened to ban Aeroflot immediately from its airspaceand territory.

The German side eventually agreed on transferring Lufthansa Cargo’s operation from Kazakhstan to Krasnoyarsk as soon as the infrastructure at the Siberian airport was brought into technical shape to guarantee smooth operations all year long, despite harsh weather conditions. This was accomplished by setting up an instrument landing system (Cat. II) that provides precision guidance to any landing aircraft in case of heavy snowfall, fog, or hard rain. “We spent US$10 million installing the ILS,” noted Denis Pashkov, Minister of Industry and Energy at Krasnoyarsk’s regional government.