Lufthansa Cargo carried 8.5 percent less freight in September than a year ago, half the decline of its closest European rival Air France-KLM.
Europe's second largest scheduled cargo airline flew 131,000 metric tons of freight last month, taking traffic for the first ten months of the year to 1.1 metric tons, down 15.2 percent from the same period in 2008.
"No basic improvement in market conditions could be observed at Lufthansa Cargo," the carrier's parent Lufthansa said.
Lufthansa's cargo traffic fell just 1.1 percent on year in August but the company said this reflected a sharp fall in volume in the same month in 2008.
The Lufthansa group's freight traffic, including Swiss Cargo, dropped 9.3 percent in September to 146,000 metric tons, leaving volume in the first nine months 15.4 percent lower at 1.23 million metric tons.
Lufthansa trimmed cargo capacity by 12.2 percent from a year ago, resulting in a 2.2 percentage point improvement in its load factor, or capacity utilization, to 66.4 percent.
Americas traffic shrunk 11.5 percent to 42,000 metric tons, and Asia-Pacific shipments were off 11.9 percent at 40,000 metric tons. The Middle East-Africa network continued to buck the trend, with cargo volume rising 10.2 percent to 15,000 metric tons.
September marked the second month running the decline in Lufthansa's cargo traffic was in single digits and contrasted with a 17.2 percent fall in freight volume in September at Air France-KLM, Europe's biggest cargo airline.
Lufthansa Cargo is grounding four of its 19 MD11- freighters for a year and is expected to park an additional two freighters through the winter season beginning October 25.
But Lufthansa Cargo's chief executive said he expects the market to improve in 2010. "As an optimist I expect we will see a clear recovery both in tonnage as well as in revenue and thus results," Carsten Spohr told the Swiss newspaper Boersen-Zeitung.
Lufthansa has forecast a full-year loss for its cargo unit which swung to a first half deficit of $188 million from a year-earlier profit of $160 million.
Lufthansa's passenger division reported traffic rose 14.6 percent in September, due to consolidation of its UK unit bmi and recently acquired Austrian Airlines.
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