AeroLogic, the new DHL Express/Lufthansa Cargo joint-venture, aims to launch operations with its first two Boeing 777Fs in April next year using an initial pool of up to 80 pilots, and eventually growing its pilot count to 200.

The Leipzig, Germany-based airline, which unveiled its name and the source for the first eight of its planned fleet of 11 777Fs today, has launched its recruitment campaign and is tying up with an undisclosed training partner to assist it in the early stages of its operations, says joint managing director Dr Thomas Papke.

"We will start with a crew/aircraft factor of ten, so for our 2009 fleet of four 777Fs we will have 40 captains and 40 co-pilots."

Papke says that this ratio will decline as the fleet grows, and he envisages an eventual staff of 200 pilots when the fleet reaches 11 aircraft in 2012.

© DHL Express/Lufthansa Cargo

"We're looking for experienced pilots, but they don't need a 777 rating," says Papke. "For captains we need a minimum of 5,000h and for co-pilots 1,000h."

"We've arranged to take simulator time and will use our partner until we have our own type rating examiners and instructors," he says. "We expect to have our own type-rating capability in place by mid-2009."

Papke expects to be able to disclose the training partner in February. He says AeroLogic does not plan to operate its own simulator but has been offered exclusive capacity on a third-party device.

AeroLogic, which will have its own air operator's certificate, will not be staffed through the transfer of pilots from either parent company, says Papke. "We're recruiting directly through our website. There has already been a lot of interest in the airline from the pilot community."

With AeroLogic offering "a competitive package" for the freight sector, Papke does not foresee any problems securing sufficient crews to grow the airline. However, Lufthansa Cargo chief executive Carsten Spohr says he does not expect to lose any pilots to the start-up, despite the appeal of a 777 type rating.

AeroLogic is acquiring eight 777Fs in 2009 and 2010 on 10 year operating leases from Deucalion, an investment fund owned by DVB bank.

Three additional 777Fs will be acquired in 2011-12 from a yet-to-be selected source. The airline will operate a predominantly Asian network from DHL's new "mega-hub" in Leipzig. It will fly express services for DHL during weekdays, and switch to general cargo flights for Lufthansa Cargo at weekends.