Lufthansa Delays The MD-11’s Final Flight

Lufthansa has delayed the retirement of its last MD-11 freighter by two days. Today’s flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Frankfurt was set to be its last. However, Lufthansa today confirmed that the aircraft would operate a further two rotations to accommodate exceptional demand for cargo between the two cities.

Lufthansa Cargo, MD-11, Final Flight
Lufthansa Cargo has delayed the MD-11’s final flight. Photo: Getty Images

This weekend will see the end of an era for both Lufthansa Cargo and Europe. Lufthansa Cargo has been flying the MD-11 for the past two and a bit decades and is now the last European operator of the type. All good things must come to an end, though, and as Lufthansa moves towards more sustainable twinjets, its curtains for the tri-jet.

A stay of retirement

At the 11th hour, it seems as though D-ALCC has received a stay of retirement from the Lufthansa Cargo fleet, albeit for just two days. Speaking to Simple Flying today, a Lufthansa spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“Although the last flight of D-ALCC was scheduled for this Friday, she is doing two more extra rounds for us this weekend, because her capacities are urgently needed. With this, her last landing in JFK would be tomorrow, Saturday, October 16, Arrival at 20:05 and departure at 22.30”

Lufthansa, MD-11F, Retirement
The tri-jet has served with Lufthansa for over two decades. Photo: Lufthansa Cargo

An extra 48 hours in service

D-ALCC joined the Lufthansa Cargo fleet on August 13th, 1998. As such, the 48-hour extension will account for just 0.02% of the aircraft’s life. In other words, it is largely insignificant. It will, however, give people more time to say goodbye to the MD-11.

Frankfurt Airport is known to attract many planespotters for special flights. This is even the case early on a cold and wet Sunday morning, such as when a Qantas Boeing 787 appeared for a special repatriation flight. With the weather set to be nicer on Sunday, and the time more amicable, it seems sure that many will come out to witness the last flight of this noisy beast.

Lufthansa Cargo, MD-11 Retirement, Boeing 777F
D-ALCC’s last flight will now be on October 17th. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

A more sustainable future

The retirement of the Lufthansa Cargo MD-11s comes as the airline looks to move to more sustainable twinjet cargo jets, specifically the Boeing 777F. Firstly, the aircraft are cheaper to operate, as two engines are more efficient than three. But they are also more cost-effective for another reason you may not expect.

Frankfurt airport, the home of the Lufthansa Cargo fleet, charges aircraft based on their noise footprint. As of 2015, the noise-related turnaround charge for an MD-11 was €1,140. By comparison, the Boeing 777F attracted a charge of €740, a drop of 35%.

Lufthansa Cargo, MD-11, Final Flight
The Boeing 777F is the way forward for Lufthansa Cargo. Photo: Oliver Roesler – Lufthansa Cargo

The Boeing 777F is also better for the environment. More fuel-efficient aircraft use less fuel and thus emit fewer emissions. Lufthansa Cargo is also trying to make its 777Fs even more efficient than those held by other airlines. For example, it equips the entire fleet with special sharkskin fuselage technology and increases access to Sustainable Aviation Fuels.

What do you make of the MD-11s delayed retirement? Will you miss the tri-jet? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!