Lufthansa Cargo is holding talks with other carriers to establish joint ventures that could give it access to new markets.
"We are in talks with various partners about improving our collaboration on the network side," says its vice-president for the Asia-Pacific, Helge Krueger-Lorenzen. "We do understand that investing our own assets down the road is not the only option, it is one of many."
While not identifying any carriers in particular, he says that the discussions are being held with some member airlines of the Star Alliance. He adds, however, that the company would rather have a portfolio of individual joint ventures than combined partnership with other carriers.
Krueger-Lorenzen says that the new partnerships will allow the carrier to "better tap into the regional markets" that have continued to grow in the current economic climate, such as intra-Asia and within the Americas.
Those are markets that are largely closed off to Lufthansa Cargo as a result of the limited number of fifth-freedom rights that it has.
Krueger-Lorenzen adds that the partnerships will also allow it to enhance its overall network offering.
"If you don't have the certain destinations in your portfolio, joint ventures can produce that," he says.
Despite the company's enthusiasm for joint ventures, Lufthansa Cargo has faced difficulties with them before.
The company was a 25% investor in Shenzhen-based Jade Cargo, a joint venture carrier that was 51% owned by Shenzhen Airlines. That venture is now being wound up after ceasing operations in December 2011 because it was unable to pay its fuel bills.
Following its takeover of Shenzhen Airlines in 2010, Air China inherited the controlling stake in Jade, but focused on growing its own cargo joint venture with Cathay Pacific.
Nevertheless, Lufthansa Cargo has a capacity sharing agreement with Air China Cargo which allows it to access that carrier's capacity on routes from Asia to Europe.