Lufthansa Cargo unveiled plans to boost its freighter network later in the year as the decline in its freight traffic flattens out while its leading European rivals continue to lose market share.
Shipments fell 0.8 percent in June from a year earlier to 149,000 metric tons, leaving traffic in the first half down 3.5 percent from the same period in 2012 at 839,000 metric tons.
The German carrier bucked the overall market trend by increasing its load factor in the first half of the year by 0.8 percentage points to 70 percent, driven by a 2.2 percent cut in capacity.
“There are clear signs of the weak performance of the global economy in the level of demand,” said Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt.
“The recent withdrawals of a number of cargo airlines from the market demonstrate the degree to which the air freight industry is struggling with this. Our strategy of securing the profitability of our routes through high capacity utilization is proving successful in this environment.”
Garnadt said the carrier plans to launch new routes to the U.S., South America and China in the winter schedule starting at the end of October. Lufthansa launched twice weekly connections between Frankfurt and Guadalajara, Mexico, in March, and slightly increased frequencies to China.
The Lufthansa group, which includes SwissWorldCargo, carried 170,000 metric tons of freight in June, a 0.3 percent drop on a year ago, which left traffic for the first half of 2013 down 3.1 percent at 963,000 metric tons.
Lufthansa’s figures contrast with a deepening slump at rival carriers, including Air France-KLM, which posted a 6.3 percent year-on-year decline in June, outpacing a 4.3 percent cut in capacity which trimmed its load factor by 1.3 percentage points to 62.4 percent.
IAG, the carrier formed from the British Airways-Iberia merger, saw June cargo volume shrink 8.7 percent and revenue decline 3.9 percent from a year ago.
BA’s traffic fell 8.2 percent, and its Spanish partner was down 11.1 percent.
The Journal of Commerce