Chicago-based United Airlines and Frankfurt-based Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) launched a joint venture (JV), effective May 3. The JV agreement was signed April 20, 2017.

Under the JV framework, the two carriers can jointly manage the sales and booking of standard and express shipments on routes between Europe and the US.

Starting with selected routes from the US, Italy, Great Britain, Ireland and Germany, the carriers will expand the network in the coming months and plan to include additional products and features in the future.

Lufthansa Cargo chairman and CEO Peter Gerber said the joint venture is “designed to provide enhanced value to customers. The combination of the two strong networks offers new routing options.”

Gerber said the co-locations of LHC warehouses, in Munich for example, is an additional benefit, as customers only need one location for export drop-off and import delivery. Aligned processes and quicker transfers between separate warehouses also lead to streamlined transport times, he said.

“Cargo customers worldwide value speed, convenience and reliability,” United Cargo president Jan Krems said. “Through our JV, United and LHC offers transatlantic shippers more options that produce these benefits—including increased frequencies on a combined network accessible through either partner’s booking channels.”

The JV comes as demand in Global air cargo fell to its lowest level in 22 months in March, as traffic measured in FTKs increased 1.7% compared to a year earlier, when March 2017 demand grew 14%, according to IATA’s latest Air Freight Market Analysis released May 2. March’s traffic growth was down five points from February. IATA’s analysis attributed much of the slowdown to a weakening of export orders from major manufacturers in Germany, Japan, the US, South Korea and China.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway.at