What Happened To Lufthansa Cargo’s Boeing 747 Aircraft?

German flag carrier Lufthansa is a well-known operator of the Boeing 747, having operated several passenger-carrying variants over the years. However, did you know that its airfreight division, Lufthansa Cargo, has also flown the Queen of the skies? Let’s take a look at Lufthansa Cargo’s relationship with the 747, and what its fleet looks like today.

Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 747
Almost all of Lufthansa Cargo’s 747’s came from the 200 series. Photo: Steve Knight via Flickr

The 747-200

According to data from ch-aviation.com and ATDB.aero, all but one of Lufthansa Cargo’s 747 freighters belonged to the 747-200 variant. Interestingly while most of these were built as specialized cargo-carrying aircraft, others were originally the passenger-carrying -200B version. They became able to carry freight through the use of an extra side cargo door.

Data from ATDB.aero shows that Lufthansa Cargo flew 12 747-200F aircraft, canceling its acquisitions of a further four. Additionally, ch-aviation lists five 747-200Bs with the aforementioned side cargo door, alongside a sixth example on ATDB.aero. All in all, Lufthansa Cargo flew 747-200 freighters from 1990 to 2007. But where did they end up?

As expected for aircraft dating back to the mid-1970s, all have now been either scrapped or left derelict. However, that isn’t to say that they weren’t active after leaving the German flag carrier’s cargo division. Indeed, they went on to fly for the likes of Air Atlanta Icelandic, Atlas Air, Evergreen International Airlines, Ocean Air, and Southern Airlines.

World Airways Boeing 747
Lufthansa Cargo leased its sole 747-400F from World Airways. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

A single 747-400

The 747-400 proved to be the most popular variant of the 747 family as a whole. However, it played a far less significant role when it came to Lufthansa Cargo’s operations. Indeed, ATDB.aero reports that just a single example flew for the German flag carrier’s airfreight division. It joined on a short-term lease from World Airways in August 2008.

Still bearing a World Airways livery and a US registration (N740WA), the aircraft served Lufthansa Cargo for just four months. It returned to the US in December 2008. By this time, it was 15 years old, having initially begun flying passengers for Malaysia Airlines in 1993. It was set to join Singapore Airlines in 2007, but ended up going to World Airways instead.

Now almost three decades old, the aircraft remains in service today. It bears the Icelandic registration TF-AMM, and flies for Astral Aviation on lease from Air Atlanta Icelandic. At the time of writing, data from RadarBox.com showed that it was based in Liège, Belgium, and being deployed on long-haul sectors to Africa and North America.

Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777
Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet is now an all-Boeing 777 affair. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

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A twinjet future

The days of the Boeing 747 at Lufthansa Cargo are now long gone. In fact, it no longer operates any aircraft with more than two engines, following the retirement of its last remaining McDonnell Douglas MD-11F. This took place in October 2021, and the aircraft wasn’t just the last MD-11 at Lufthansa Cargo, but, in fact, also for the whole of Europe.

According to data from ch-aviation, Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet now consists of 11 Boeing 777-200Fs, of which 10 are presently active. These twinjets are just 5.1 years old on average, and represent the shape of things to come in the cargo sector.

What did you make of Lufthansa Cargo’s Boeing 747 fleet? Do you miss seeing these aircraft in the German flag carrier’s livery? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.