LONDON – German carrier Lufthansa (LH) has announced it will be adding 14 weekly cargo flights to the Chinese destination of Shenzhen.

The first service departed on May 18 with a retrofitted Airbus A330-300 aircraft that has been converted to carry cargo as opposed to passengers.

Inside one of the converted Airbus A330-300 cargo aircraft fully loaded with medical supplies.

This aircraft had carried around three million face-masks as well as other medical protective equipment, which was flown over to Frankfurt.

It is understood that 10 Airbus A330-300 in the fleet will be retrofitted in the same way due to all 17 of its Boeing 777 Freighters are at maximum operational capacity.

This also means that the newly opened route to Shenzhen brings the total frequencies for cargo in China to 49 per week.

With each A330 able to carry 30 tonnes of cargo per flight, this will increase the weekly tonnage capacity by 420 tonnes.

Commenting on the news was Dorothea van Boxberg, the Chief Commercial Officer of Lufthansa Cargo who emphasised this was needed in order to speed up shipping of important medical goods.

“Lufthansa Cargo is doing its utmost to strengthen security of supplies by air and maintain supply chains. We are continuing to expand our services to ensure the fast transport of large quantities of urgently needed goods”.

Achim Plucker, the Managing Director for Shenzhen’s International Cargo Center praised the carrier for its speedy response time in getting the route launched.

“For Shenzhen Airport and the International Cargo Center Shenzhen, the launch of the Lufthansa connection is a further step in the internationalization of Shenzhen Bao’an Airport.”

“We are very pleased to be able to participate in supplying Germany with urgently needed medical goods such as masks. It was an energetic effort on the part of everyone involved, especially the airport, to launch this new connection in just fourteen days”.

Shenzhen will now join the 300 destinations across more than 100 countries that the Cargo Wing of the German carrier operates, as well as contributing to the significant revenue-tonne-kilometers that was achieved in 2019, at a staggering 8.9 billion.

Overall, as Lufthansa’s passenger numbers decline, it is indeed taking the smart move to plunge deep into the cargo market while this pandemic is ongoing.

The flexibility of such conversions means it is able to capitalise on more revenues in order to keep the Group standing.

Lufthansa has been in talks with the German government, of which a nine billion Euro stabilization package is still in the process of political decision-making, with Chancellor Merkel’s administration set to take a 25% stake in the airline.

For now, the airline can continue to dig deep in the market and march slowly but surely towards a passenger-based recovery once the pandemic slows down.