Lufthansa Cargo will introduce the Boeing 777F to its fleet next year, as well as most likely retiring its MD-11 freighters.
The German carrier ordered five 777Fs and inked options for five additional aircraft with Boeing in May 2011. But thus far it was unclear whether the freighters would be deployed in its own fleet in Frankfurt or at the company's joint venture with DHL Express, AeroLogic, in Leipzig.
Lufthansa Cargo has now decided to introduce the twinjet in its own fleet. The first two 777Fs are to be delivered in late 2013, with two to follow in 2014 and the fifth in 2015.
The aircraft will most likely be used to start replacing the airline's MD-11F fleet. Lufthansa Cargo says that it is flexible about the trijet's future use, because the aircraft have been paid off and the younger ones still have around 15 years of service life left.
Given oil prices and the economic outlook, however, the 777Fs would more likely be used as replacements than for growth "from today's point of view", a spokesman tells Flightglobal. The final decision will depend on the economic circumstances when the aircraft are delivered.
While Lufthansa Cargo has not mothballed any of its 18 MD-11F aircraft, it slashed its schedule as a result of falling cargo demand. The capacity cuts are equivalent to a fleet reduction by two MD-11F aircraft.
It is not yet clear how the fleet replacement will take shape, with the airline not ruling out that one 777F could replace more than one MD-11F.