Lufthansa Cargo (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) has announced in a press release that it had ordered a further two B777-Fs with deliveries scheduled for 2020. The carrier also confirmed that it will retire its MD-11(F)s by the end of 2020.

The cargo specialist said that thanks to the larger capacity and range of the B777-Fs, it will be able to carry the same volume of cargo on board nine Boeing freighters as it did on eighteen MD-11(F) in operation when the fleet rollover started.

The two incremental B777-Fs will be based out of Frankfurt Int'l.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Lufthansa Cargo currently operates seven B777-Fs and ten MD-11(F)s. The trijets were delivered to the airline from 1998 onwards and are currently 20.3 years old on average. They were originally planned for retirement around 2024. Besides its in-house fleet, Lufthansa Cargo also use the cargo capacity of four B777-Fs operated by a joint venture with DHL Express, AeroLogic (3S, Leipzig/Halle), as well as the bellyhold capacity of aircraft operated by other Lufthansa Group units.

Lufthansa Cargo said that currently, around half of its cargo is carried onboard passenger aircraft.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) itself reduced its order book for the passenger version of the B777X. According to the carrier's quarterly report for the third quarter of 2019, it converted firm orders for fourteen units to options. As such, it leaves Lufthansa with twenty firm options for B777-9s. The carrier said that the options "at present, are not sufficiently certain to be exercised".

Speaking during the quarterly earnings call, Group Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said that the airline had back-up plans in case of further delivery delays of the B777-9s. The type was initially slated for mid-2020 entry into service but is now expected to be delayed to at least early 2021.

"If you look at the performance of the OEMs to bring new aircraft to the market in time, of course, we would be ill-advised not to have backup plans for further delays." Lufthansa can "have additional D checks on our B747-400s which are partly young enough to have another D check on them. And they would be operated longer if there is further delays or also to cover the delay we already know about," Spohr said.

Lufthansa currently operates thirteen B747-400s which are 20.8 years old on average.