Holiday stress instead of freight doldrums
Summertime is usually meagre rations at Lufthansa Cargo in Frankfurt, but this year business is also buzzing in the summer months of July and August
Summer holidays and bank holidays usually mean less business for Lufthansa Cargo. Normally ... but not this year: "We cannot detect any holiday depression over the last few weeks and have our hands full here in Frankfurt," says Bernd Reifert, Director of Transit & Warehouse Management.
During vacation periods in Europe and holidays like Christmas and the Chinese New Year or the Japanese Golden Week, many businesses are at a standstill and the demand for airfreight transport is low. Other events have the opposite effect: World Women's Day, for example, when tons of red roses fly from South America or Africa to Russia. All this data is already taken into account prior to the publication of the respective summer or winter plan, which is the basis for all sales areas from handling to flight operations. However, this flight plan is optimised at short notice by Lufthansa Cargo's network management depending on actual demand and booking capacity. "The flexible holiday calendar dates in particular are different every year so, for instance, the Chinese New Year this year was very early in the year and therefore close to New Year according to our calendar. We try to react to these factors at an early stage in the flight schedule," explains Sie-Hyun Cho, who, together with his colleagues at network management, is responsible for all short-term freighter flight plan adjustments in the Lufthansa Cargo network for vacation periods and holidays all over the world.
Back to the Lufthansa Cargo Center: During the holiday season, acute container shortages often occur: the small AKH containers, which fit perfectly into the bellies of the Airbus A320 family, and the AKEs built for the holds of the long distance aircraft, are needed to load the passenger´s baggage. And not only that: Lufthansa Cargo transports about 50 percent of freight shipments in the bellies of passenger aircraft. So what happens when, in #AviationSummer, everyone wants to go on holiday? With child, the kitchen sink and heavy suitcases? Then the space for freight cargo in the passenger aircraft bellies is scarce. "Pax luggage has the higher priority," confirms Reifert. The team from load planning and control ensures an optimal balance between luggage and freight. "We want to make both customer groups happy – sometimes holidays present us with special challenges." Together with the capacity planning, the colleagues at LCC talk over these exceptional weeks months beforehand: based on previous years they can predict the possible luggage volume and plan the freight accordingly.