Following a study on the air cargo business and after lengthy consultations with potential partners and public authorities, on 4 March 1970, Loftleiðir, Salén, Luxair and some private interests founded Cargolux. With a very limited staff and lots of high hopes, they launched themselves into the business of flying all-cargo charters anywhere in the world.
The three partners agreed during the very early stages of the company, that each party would contribute to the different phases in the operation. Thus, Loftleiðir was responsible for operational and technical matters, Salén for sales and the Luxembourg group for administration.
The airline was founded to operate all-cargo ad hoc and sub-charter flights and the first years of operation proved that there was a need for the type of service that Cargolux was offering to its customers. In the early 1970s, air charter became more and more recognized as a serious and justified means of transportation. Its advantage was that it could meet a special demand that could often not be offered by scheduled carriers: flexibility, adoption of special transports requirements, and a tailored service to the individual charter requirement.
Cargolux’s first flight went to Hong Kong in September 1970.
In the first years of operation, Cargolux flew a large amount of charters to and from the Far East. Although the ad hoc flights were Cargolux’s main activities, the Far East services were all carried out as charters – split charters as well as full charters. During the first half of 1972, the Far East service had successfully increased in tonnage carried and the company introduced regular charter flights between Luxembourg and Hong Kong, the latter becoming a primary destination in the continued development of the company.
Albeit struggling for survival in times of increasing fuel costs in the seventies and economic downturns in the eighties, Cargolux continued to grow and added new regular flights to its schedule; amongst others Taipeh in 1978, Miami and Houston in the early eighties, San Francisco and Seattle in 1983, Fukuoka, Japan in 1985, Montreal and Edmonton in Canada in 1989, Australia and New Zealand in 1999. Cargolux also flew to such varied destinations as Pnom Penh, Cambodia, Malmö, Sweden, Namibia, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and was the first foreign airline to land at Shenzhen Airport in P.R. China.
As far as aircrafts are concerned the company started in May 1970 with a single Canadair CL-44, swingtail freighter aircraft. In 1972 the company operated five CL-44s of which three were the stretched version. In October 1973, Cargolux took delivery of a DC-8-61 freighter and went jet. A number of DC-8-61 and DC-8-55 joined the fleet until 1977 when the company decided to acquire a Boeing 747-200 Jumbo freighter. The first 747 was delivered in January 1979, joined by a second in October 1980. By the year 2000 Cargolux operated 10 Boeing 747-400F becoming an all 747-400 operator.
For more information on the services of Cargolux and its history we recommend a visit to their website at Cargolux.com
Cargolux History and Photos courtesy of Cargolux Airlines