United, Lufthansa Cargo launch long-awaited joint venture

After nearly three years of negotiations, United Airlines and Lufthansa Cargo formally launched their air cargo joint venture (JV) last week, enabling both carriers to jointly manage sales and booking of standard and express shipments on routes between Europe and the United States.

Effective May 3, the JV applies to selected routes from the U.S., Italy, Great Britain, Ireland and Germany, however the carriers said they plan to expand the geographical scope of the JV in the coming months and plan to include additional products and features in the future.

“The joint venture was designed to provide enhanced value to our customers,” said Peter Gerber, chairman and CEO of Lufthansa Cargo. “The combination of the two strong networks offers new routing options.”

Gerber pointed out that the co-location of warehouses in Munich provides an additional benefit for both carriers. Customers, he said, need “only one location for export drop-off and import delivery. Aligned processes and quicker transfers between separate warehouses also lead to streamlined transport times.”

United Cargo president Jan Krems said that, through the JV, United and Lufthansa Cargo offer trans-Atlantic shippers more benefits, such as, “increased frequencies on a combined network accessible through either partner’s booking channels. Our aligned teams and processes also deliver the superior service quality essential to our customers’ success.”

Plans for the JV between United and Lufthansa first began to gel in 2015, soon after the formation of a successful joint venture between Lufthansa and ANA Cargo on flights between Europe and Japan.

In 2017, Lufthansa Cargo transported about 1.6 million tonnes of freight and mail and sold 8.9 billion revenue tonne kilometers (RTKs), serving around 300 destinations in more than 100 countries. Meanwhile, United Cargo operates approximately 4,500 flights a day to 338 airports via its fleet of 744 aircraft, carrying more than 3 billion cargo ton miles in 2017.

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