Lufthansa bailout: Positive signal for air cargo customers

Frankfurt remains most important hub for air cargo consolidation of a. hartrodt.

The 9 billion Euro government bailout for Lufthansa means that a. hartrodt's customers can continue to rely on air freight services. "We do not expect any serious changes for us," comments Hendrik Khezri, Managing Director Air Cargo at a. hartrodt at Frankfurt airport. European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, approved the Corona rescue package on condition that Lufthansa gives up 24 slots for take-off and landing rights at Frankfurt and Munich. Khezri would prefer to cancel these slots rather than award them to the highest bidding European airline: "Everyone is currently expecting a decline in air traffic. Our airspace is too crowded, and the offer for our customers is sufficient."

Charter as a Trend

For a. hartrodt, the air freight hub in Frankfurt is the main consolidation point for worldwide air freight. As an independent air freight forwarder, a. hartrodt cooperates not only with Lufthansa Cargo but also with other carriers, and many of them have abolished their freighters. Lufthansa Cargo's freighter fleet currently consists of six MD-11F wide-body long-haul aircraft and seven Boeing 777Fs. In view of the airlines' reduced freighter fleets, Khezri sees charter as a trend: "We could, for example, book air cargo on weekly charter flights from Frankfurt-Hahn".

One in three passenger aircraft worldwide will disappear

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the worldwide aircraft fleet to shrink by almost a third in 2020 compared to the previous year. This will primarily affect passenger aircraft with belly freight capacity. "Because between 50 and 60 percent of air freight is flown on these aircraft, we are seeing bottlenecks," says Khezri. Lufthansa, for example, temporarily grounds part of its Airbus 380 fleet. He estimates that the recovery phase in air freight "will last until the beginning or middle of 2021". Everything stands or falls with the export industry. The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, DIHK, in Berlin predicts a 15 percent decline in exports in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Khezri expects a permanent reduction in passenger flights. One reason for this is that business trips will be less frequent due to the digitization push by Corona. This also applies to a. hartrodt: "We are improving our customer communication with virtual conferences," says the manager.