Lufthansa Cargo cautiously optimistic for 2012

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Lufthansa Cargo expects a "three-digit million" operating profit for 2012, but anticipates this being this lower than last year's result of €249 million ($330 million), the company says.

While it was the second-best operating profit in the airline's history, the 2011 result was down 19.7% on the figure of €310 million in the previous year.

The cargo carrier wants to improve its earnings by at least €70 million per year from 2015 as part of Lufthansa's group-wide cost-cutting and sales improvement programme, SCORE, says Peter Gerber, Lufthansa Cargo board member, finance and human resources.

Despite a potential permanent night flight ban in Frankfurt, the airline appears set to go ahead with its plans to build a new logistics centre at its main hub to replace the existing 30-year-old facility.

The company says the construction project, along with other investments such as ordered Boeing 777 Freighters and a new IT system, are part of its "Lufthansa Cargo 2020" growth plan.

The parent group previously said that building the new cargo facility had been put on ice as a result of the temporary night flight ban, which was introduced in October.

If the rule was to become permanent, it would cost the Lufthansa Cargo €40 million per year, according to the company.

Chief executive Karl Ulrich Garnadt says that there was a "real danger" that Frankfurt would lose its position as "the best and most attractive air freight hub in Europe".

The federal court in Leipzig, which is currently assessing the night flight regulation in Frankfurt, is hoping to disclose its findings on 4 April.