The carrier attributed the decline, to 160,000 tons, to a 7.2 percent reduction in capacity that clipped revenue by 7 percent while the load factor improved by 0.1 percentage point to 72 percent.
Traffic for the first quarter was down 9.3 percent from the same period in 2011 at 426,000 tons.
The lower cargo figure also was impacted by a ban on night flights at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub since the end of October, which was upheld by Germany’s federal administrative court last week.
The Lufthansa group, which includes Swiss, reported a 10.6 percent year-over-year drop in freight to 183,000 tons in March. Capacity and revenue were both down 5.5 percent while the load factor grew 0.1 points to 69.7 percent.
Traffic on Americas routes declined 9.9 percent to 56,000 tons but revenue was down only 2.9 percent. Asia-Pacific shipments shrunk 12.3 percent to 50,000 tons and revenue was 7.7 percent lower than in March 2011.
Middle East-Africa traffic slumped 13 percent to 17,000 tons.
Lufthansa said it will make the case for selected night flights in Frankfurt in the next planning application.
A permanent ban on night flights, a “core element” of Lufthansa Cargo’s business model, would have “severely adverse” consequences for Frankfurt as an aviation hub over the long term, the carrier warned.