Aging Lufthansa Freighters Fly On in Virus-Stoked Cargo Boom
When the Covid-19 crisis hit the airline business this year,Deutsche Lufthansa AG was planning to phase out the half-dozen aging MD-11 freighters that remain in its fleet by the end of 2020.
Then cargo rates skyrocked. The virus destroyed demand for air travel, and as airlines grounded their fleets they also created a shortage of air-cargo space by removing much of the capacity being transported in the belly of passenger liners.
Dedicated freighters like Lufthansa’s MD-11s, which had been giving way to belly freight, suddenly became big profit generators, helping airlines to offset some of the devastation from the loss of ticket sales. The German company, one of the biggest cargo operators among passenger carriers, began to considerslowing the MD-11s’ retirement, analysts at CAPA Centre for Aviation wrote in April. Like dozens of its peers, it also drafted passenger planes into temporary cargo duty.
Lufthansa — which is said to be speeding theexit of its biggest passenger planes — is now considering keeping some of its MD-11s in operation well into next year, according to spokeswoman Jacqueline Casini.
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