Lufthansa depends on Frankfurt as cargo hub

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Lufthansa Cargo's main hub will remain at Frankfurt International airport if the current temporary night flight ban becomes permanent law, but the airline says it will need to shift some of its growth plans elsewhere as a result.

The freight airline's revenue increased 5.3% to €2.9 billion ($3.9 billion) last year, while its operating profit dropped nearly 20% to €249 million.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped 26.3% to €328 million. But tonnage grew 5% to €1.88 million, while revenue per tonne-kilometres increased 6.5% to nearly €9.5 million.

Lufthansa's chief financial officer, Stephan Gemkow, says Frankfurt will continue to be the company's main cargo hub, as the business depends on the proximity to passenger flights for belly freight and because of the airport's large infrastructure, which has been put in place by the airline and other logistics firms.

But he says that could change in the future, depending on whether the federal court in Leipzig upholds the night flight ban when it makes its ruling on 4 April.

Lufthansa Cargo's business saw its largest year-on-year volume growth at 10% in the Americas, which was almost entirely driven by flights to the region.

Cargo revenue out of China decreased in the second half of the year, while the entire Asia Pacific region registered sales increases of 3%.

Lufthansa chief executive Christoph Franz says the company shifted capacity from Asia Pacific to the Americas. While it grew "moderately" at 5.6% in the former, capacity to the Americas increased 13.3%.