MUC welcomes a home cargo carrier

Munich Airport (MUC) is Lufthansa’s second-busiest cargo hub worldwide after Frankfurt. This is thanks to the belly capacity offered to the market by the airline’s intercontinental passenger flights operating from and to Munich. Soon, main deck A321 freighters will be adding main-deck uplifts of 28 tons to the available cargo booking options. The airport has long been campaigning for this service.

The management of Munich Airport is in a doubly festive spirit. First reason: Lufthansa Cargo is integrating MUC into its European regional network. This means that the years of campaigning to become part of Lufthansa Cargo’s trans-European A321F freighter services, pushed forward by MUC’s freight-minded CEO, Jost Lammers, have resulted in an initial success.
Secondly, MUC is getting a new home carrier. This is because the four A321 freighters flying in Lufthansa colors are operated by Lufthansa City Line, which is headquartered in Munich where their maintenance and technical center is also located. So, formally, the A321Fs are registered in Munich, without thus far serving the airport – until now.

Munich has long campaigned for getting an air freight home carrier. Now the mission is accomplished, states MUC’s CargoChief, Markus Heinelt – photo: courtesy MUC Airport

The market decides whether further flights will follow
This will change on 06JUL24. From that day on, the MUC-IST-MUC sector will be operated twice a week. Markus Heinelt, Munich’s Head of Cargo, speaks of a “welcome start” with hopefully more to come. Now it is up to the market to make the route a success. In all likelihood, this will also determine whether Lufthansa Cargo will increase the frequencies on this leg or add additional pan European freighter flights to and from Munich.
MUC-IST-MUC will be served on weekdays 6 and 7. “We expect demand to be high, as southern Germany accounts for 40% of the total air cargo market in Germany,” Manager Heinelt optimistically forecasts. And his boss, CEO Lammers, adds: “We see huge potential for air cargo at Munich Airport on account of the economic strength of our catchment area. As one of Europe’s leading airports with corresponding capacities for further expansion, cargo business is an important pillar of our Group strategy that will help us to achieve continued growth.”

High share of transit shipments
As far as products are concerned, it is likely to be mainly textiles from Turkey, but also car parts, chemical products and electronics flown westbound on board of Lufthansa Cargo’s A321F. These will include many transit shipments which will continue their journey via MUC to intercontinental destinations served by the Lufthansa long-haul fleet, predominantly in North and South America. Worth mentioning in this regard, is the recently announced connection between Munich and Sao Paulo, which will be served three times a week with an A350, starting from 09DEC24. Sao Paulo is the city with the highest number of German industrial enterprises worldwide that are active outside their national borders.
Eastbound ex MUC, cargo managers expect mostly automotive products, high-tech and pharmaceuticals to be flown by the A321Fs to IST; among them many transits coming from overseas.

Bhat speaks of an attractive network addition
The cargo airline has been operating a large-scale CEIV-certified pharmaceutical hub at Munich Airport since mid-2020. Hence, the local workforce is very familiar with the handling or interim storage of larger temperature-sensitive shipments.
Even though the first MUC-IST-MUC flight is still around 14 days away, Lufthansa Cargo clients can book their shipments on the new route with immediate effect. “This new freighter connection makes our global network even more attractive. For our southern German customers in particular, Munich Airport offers ideal conditions for the fast and reliable transportation of air freight, which ultimately also enables global business from another important European airport [Munich],” explains Ashwin Bhat, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo. The executive goes on to say: “With the launch of our cargo operations out of Munich, we are laying the foundation for aligning our network even more closely with the needs of our customers in the future and continuing to manage it flexibly.”

Excellent ground infrastructure
And with reference to its own pharma hub, the airline emphasizes that temperature-critical products can be stored and handled under optimal conditions. The facility is integrated into Lufthansa Cargo’s own premises comprising of 38,000 m² of space. Thanks to the well-developed ground infrastructure, the carrier is able to process and transport almost all products and commodities via Munich. Until now, these have mainly been accommodated in the lower deck compartments of the passenger fleets operating out of MUC, belonging to Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Discover Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and SunExpress. Soon, the main decks of the A321Fs will also be available, at least on the sector MUC-IST.

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