Athina Onassis provides a boost to Lufthansa

Athina Onassis provides a boost to Lufthansa

Athina Onassis de Miranda is providing a boost to Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA)’s cargo unit with a regular contract to transport dozens of show jumping horses to Brazil at a cost of as much as $1.3 million.

Athina Onassis, the main heir to her shipping magnate grandfather, funds the transfer of horses to Rio de Janeiro for a tournament she helped set up and which bears her name, said Axel Heitmann, head of Lufthansa’s animal-cargo unit.

While animal transport contributes 2 percent of Lufthansa’s annual freight revenue, the market is less volatile than the cyclical cargo business and helps stabilize earnings.

Athina Onassis, herself an accomplished rider, and her Brazilian husband have won prize money in GCT competitions totaling $1.3 million since 2006, according to its website.

“Once a year she invites the community to her big event,” Heitmann said in an interview. In total, Lufthansa transports about 2,000 horses a year in what has become a “very profitable business,” since the size and bulk of a consignment determines the price, he said at the company’s Frankfurt Animal Lounge.

Flying one horse across the Atlantic can cost 10,000 euros ($13,000), as much as a first-class return for a two-legged passenger, and as many as 100 attend the South American event, Heitmann said. While animal transport contributes 2 percent of Lufthansa’s annual freight revenue, the market is less volatile than the cyclical cargo business and helps stabilize earnings.

Lufthansa’s South American legs are among the longest flown with horses, with Frankfurt-São Paulo and Frankfurt-Buenos Aires taking 12 hours. Animals headed to the Americas from the Middle East also pause in Europe because the distances would otherwise be too great, while some originating in Asia go via the longer westbound route because of the level of service, Heitmann said.

About 24,000 horses travel by air each year, with Lufthansa ranked second in the market globally behind Air France-KLM Group (AF), which moves about 12,000, aided by its so-called Animal Hotel in Amsterdam, according to spokesman Jean-Claude Raynaud.

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