Leisure Cargo acquires TUI bellies

A new deal with German tour operator TUI has given Air Berlin subsidiary Leisure Cargo the responsibility since 1 April for the air freight business of all TUI member airlines, excluding French carrier Corsair, substantially boosting its cargo offering. Heiner Siegmund reports.

“We signed a total cargo management contract with TUI that gives us access to the lower deck capacity of five carriers belonging to the German tour operator,¡± managing director Ralf-Rainer Auslaender of Leisure Cargo has told Payload Asia. They include German TUIfly, Dutch Arkefly, Great Britain’s Thomson Airways, Belgian Jetairfly, and Scandinavian TUIfly Nordic. Their combined fleet comprises 126 aircraft serving 120 destinations worldwide. In addition to the dense European network, the TUI carriers mainly offer long-haul flights to tourist destinations in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Goa, Florida, the Caribbean, Kenya, the Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates in Middle East. “The TUI accord strengthens our global network substantially,¡± observes Auslaender. Since Leisure already has relationships at most of these destinations with local general sales agents, Leisure is confident it will be easy work to integrate the newly acquired capacity into its existing network. As Auslaender further points out, from 1 April each of his company’s mandate airlines is using an Air Berlin air waybill for cargo transport. This became necessary after former tourist flyer LTU – purchased in 2007 by Air Berlin and since then integrated into the Berlinheadquartered carrier’s organization – returned its air operator certificate (AOC) at the end of March. Therefore, the former carrier has disappeared from the skies and along with it, LTU’s air waybills. The annual value of the entire TUI package amounts to €30 million, Auslaender estimates. In fiscal 2010 the Duesseldorf-based sales agent turned over 85 million euros in total. According to the manager his enterprise was profitable, “but we never do reveal details because our results are included in our parent company’s financial figures.¡± Air Berlin, however, posted losses of €97 million in 2010. The carrier blamed unprecedented occurrences like the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in April last year that stopped air traffic in most parts of Europe for about a week and the extremely harsh weather conditions in January and February 2010 causing a lot of flight cancellations being responsible for most of the losses. In the light of these announcements Leisure Cargo seems to be one of the stable factors for Air Berlin.