Lufthansa Cargo and United finally firm up transatlantic partnership

19 / 04 / 2017

Lufthansa Cargo and United Airlines have come to an agreement on their transatlantic partnership first announced in 2015.

The two carriers today announced that they had signed a deal on a new partnership covering services between the US and Europe.

They said the partnership would offer customers a comprehensive combined network, co-ordinated handling and booking processes, transfer at an increased number of stations and time savings.

“The carriers’ joint venture route network will provide greater flexibility and time savings to customers with thousands of new route combinations and more than 600 direct connections per week between the US and Europe,” the two carriers said in a statement.

The contract signing initiates the implementation phase of the joint venture project, during which the carriers will align their cargo IT systems and business processes with the goal of implementation later this year.

"The Lufthansa-United cargo joint venture will generate numerous benefits for our customers because our continental and transatlantic networks, our hubs and our fleet complement each other effectively,” said Peter Gerber, Lufthansa Cargo chief executive.

"We are excited about the benefits that will be generated by our teams’ cooperation and our combined capacities,” added Jan Krems, president of United Cargo. “Cargo customers will appreciate the opportunities for quicker and easier shipping between key locations in the US and Europe."

The two carriers first brought up the idea of a partnership in December 2015 but had been “working through the details” since then.

The move comes as Lufthansa Cargo continues to expand its partnership programme as part of attempts to tackle current industry conditions.

As well as the deal with United on the transatlantic, it also has partnerships in place with Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and Europe and ANA on services between Japan and Europe.

Lufthansa Cargo has been looking to expand its partnerships over the last few years, opting for a “metal neutral” setup that sees revenues generated distributed from a central pot and then distributing accordingly. This is done to stop sales teams from prioritising their own services.

All flights are also displayed on each partners’ booking platforms so there is no delay when bookings are placed.

Past airline alliances failed because response times on bookings were slow because processes weren’t as digitised as they should have been, cargo on one plane had to be delivered to various member premises, there was not enough harmonisation of standard products and they often faced implementation problems.

As well as expanding its partnership arrangements, the German airline, which made a loss last year, has implemented a cost cutting and efficiency drive (C40), launched new products and is pushing ahead with the digitisation of its business as it drives to stay in the air cargo champions league.