Swissair's cargo division, Swisscargo, has ditched proposals to spin off its own freight airline and will instead expand its existing strategy of wet-lease and block space agreements.

The tentative plan to set up the cargo airline was studied in 1997, when an initial three of five Boeing 747-300 passenger aircraft operated by Swissair became available. The five aircraft, including three combis, are being replaced from this year as the airline renews its fleet. The aircraft are being offered for sale or lease by Flightlease, the leasing division of Swissair parent SAirGroup.

Swisscargo, which operates purely in the freight marketing role, wet-leases three McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 freighters from Gemini Air Cargo, and also has block space agreements with Cargolux. The cargo division is known to have placed deposits last year with Boeing's freighter modification centre in Wichita for three 747-300 combi conversions, which the manufacturer still holds.

Swisscargo says that when the availability of the 747s arose, it studied the setting up of a cargo airline to operate them, but has now "-decided not to operate our own aircraft, due the costs involved . We will remain purely as a marketing enterprise and continue to focus on sub-contracts," it says.

The division is finalising its long term strategy, and is studying an expansion of links with Cargolux. One scenario could see the existing block space agreements expanded to the wet-lease of 747-400Fs from the Luxembourg carrier.

Source: Flight International