Lufthansa Cargo is putting its freighter capacity behind the recovering automobile manufacturing industry.
Lufthansa launched a weekly MD-11 freighter flight Monday between Frankfurt and Detroit, and the airline says it already plans to increase the frequency to twice weekly in March. The service, which departs Frankfurt on Mondays and leaves Detroit for Germany through New York the same day, comes as the U.S. auto industry is rebounding strongly from the recession.
The Big Three American automakers — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler — all reported double-digit gains in sales in 2011, including a 26 percent increase for Chrysler. Auto sales in the U.S. reached 13 million last year, a strong gain from 11.5 million the year before, although the industry still lags behind the 17 million annual sales counted about a decade ago.
The National Automobile Dealers Association is forecasting sales will reach 13.9 million cars this year.
Achim Martinka, Lufthansa Cargo’s vice president for North America, says the pharmaceutical market also will play a significant role in the new service.