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Etihad Cargo Back in FRA

The Gulf carrier has pulled out of Hahn. Instead, all freighter flights into and out of Germany will be routed via Frankfurt Rhine-Main airport.

As of today (15 January) Etihad directs all Germany-bound freighter flights to Rhine-Main, thus giving up neighboring Hahn airport as destination. It’s a painful decision for the former U.S. base and meantime converted place that loses one of its main cargo clients.

The entire project can be headlined ‘back to the roots’ since Etihad routed their first European freighter flights to Frankfurt shortly after taking to the air in 2003. However, during its infancy, poor operational reliability of its wet-leased freighter fleet required Etihad Cargo to move their freighter operation from FRA to HHN. With the addition of modern freighter aircraft over the past couple of years, operational reliability improved considerably, now enabling Etihad Cargo to once again take FRA into consideration as a port of call.

Etihad Cargo’s transition of locations entails a number of advantages, especially the savings of time and optimization of cargo capacities between freighter and passenger flights,” states Martin Rehs, Head of Product at the Gulf carrier’s general sales agent ATC Aviation Services Ltd. Martin reports to Michael Laschet, Etihad Cargo’s country manager Germany, based in Frankfurt.

In the past, nearly all carriage-ready pallets and shipments were built by ground handler Lufthansa Cargo at the carrier’s Frankfurt-based warehouse and had to be trucked to Hahn for loading on board the Etihad freighters, a time consuming process involving additional trucking and cargo handling services at two facilities.

As of now, Etihad Cargo will operate four freighter flights into and out of FRA each week by deploying A330Fs (3/7) together with an MD-11F (1/7). Simultaneously, double daily passenger flights to and from Frankfurt are offered together with daily flights to Munich and Dusseldorf. On all three routes Airbus A330 or A340 equipment is deployed, providing vital cargo capacities, as Germany is the strongest air freight market for Etihad Cargo in Europe.

While the aforementioned Airbus freighters are owned by the Abu Dhabi-headquartered carrier the MD-11F is leased from World Airways. However, as of February the MD-11F will be replaced by an Atlas Air provided Boeing 747-400F nose loader, which will be deployed on the Frankfurt route each Saturday.

In addition to these four cargo aircraft Etihad operates a Boeing 777F and a Maximus-chartered A300F, making it six freighters in total.

This year, two additional Boeing 777Fs and an Airbus A330F will be added to the fleet, with another A330F coming up in 2014. Then, the Maximus-provided and meanwhile aging A300F will presumably be returned to the Abu Dhabi-based lessor.

As Etihad announces, a new weekly cargo flight will be launched from Abu Dhabi to Guangzhou, China, commencing January 17. The service will be offered each Thursday utilizing an Airbus A330-200F that can load up to 68 tons.

Meanwhile, Etihad seems to be interested in buying into Italian carrier Alitalia, as reported by French paper Les Echos, referring to unnamed sources. The rapidly expanding Gulf carrier has already stakes in Air Berlin and Air Lingus and is currently in final discussions with Indian Jet Airways for acquiring a 24 percent stake in the Mumbai-based airline worth 251 million euros. According to local media the negotiations are close to completion. Jet operates a fleet of 99 aircraft and connects 21 international destinations with places in India.

Author: Heiner Siegmund

(Cargo Forwarder vom 15.01.2013)