Lufthansa Cargo sells MD-11 freighters to Western Global Airlines

The last MD-11 flight ever flown by Lufthansa Cargo touches down at Frankfurt Airport on Sunday. Lufthansa

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on

Lufthansa Cargo made its last McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 flight last week and has sold three of the aircraft to Florida-based Western Global Airlines.

Flight LH8161 ended commercial service for the three-engine MD-11 at Lufthansa’s cargo division after more than 23 years.

Lufthansa Cargo said the airplane will be sold to an undisclosed American cargo airline. Data compiled by aviation consultancy Ascend by Cirium shows that Lufthansa sold two MD-11s to Western Global last summer and that another aircraft sale is scheduled to be finalized in November. Western Global also purchased a couple of MD-11s from Lufthansa in 2017.

Rob Morris, the head of Ascend, said in an email that the three aircraft purchased by Western Global were all built in 1998, and that the current market value of those types of airplanes could range from $5.3 million to $13 million each, depending on how much maintenance they need.

Steve Dix, vice president sales and marketing at Western Global, confirmed the company purchased MD-11s from Lufthansa.

Western Global recently asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for permission to expand its fleet. As a startup carrier seven years ago, Western Global remains under DOT oversight.

Western Global operates 12 MD-11 and three Boeing 747 converted freighters, but has permission for 19 aircraft in its fleet. The company said it has acquired six more aircraft it plans to deploy once the FAA completes checks that they conform to Western’s approved operating program. Customers include:

  • UPS
  • DHL
  • The U.S. Postal Service
  • Amazon
  • Logistics providers
  • Government agencies
  • The U.S. Department of Defense
A special message on the last MD-11 flight ever flown by Lufthansa Cargo. Lufthansa

Why The Change?

Lufthansa Cargo has migrated to an all-Boeing 777 freighter fleet because the twin-engine platforms are more fuel-efficient, quieter, and emit less CO2. Lufthansa operates 11 of the wide-body aircraft and plans to lease two used Airbus A321 narrow-body airplanes once they are converted to cargo configuration.

In total, Lufthansa Cargo operated 19 MD-11s, which were manufactured by McDonnell-Douglas. The airplane has a payload of 102 tons with 26 main deck and 14 lower deck pallet positions. The 777 has 27 main deck pallet pallet positions and 10 more in the lower hold. It has a maximum payload of 113 tons.

Cargo Facts reported in June that Western Global had reserved three Lufthansa MD-11s.

Eric is the Air Cargo Market Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at

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