Cargolux breaks into aerial firefighting with new business unit

Cargolux launches Aquarius Aerial Firefighting, a new venture set to alleviate the aerial firefighting equipment shortages caused by a rise in wildfires

Luxembourg-based airline specialised in cargo flights, Cargolux, is expanding its operations and entering the world of international aerial firefighting with its new business unit, Aquarius Aerial Firefighting (Aquarius AFF). Cargolux says it will use its existing aircraft expertise and background in maintaining high standards of safety to develop its new aerial firefighting activity.

Brand new fleet

Aquarius AFF will operate a fleet of 12 Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft that Cargolux claims will be acquired over the course of the next three years. The first three of the new business unit’s aircraft have already been delivered, says the firm, and will be ready for full deployment as early as May of this year.

Cargolux, as reported by the RTL media group, will be investing a total of USD 72m to acquire all of the new Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft for its new aerial firefighting business activity, a fleet that is set to be stationed at Luxembourg’s Findel Airport.

Escalating wildfires

According to the airline, the creation of Aquarius AFF is aimed at alleviating some of the shortages of aerial firefighting equipment that Europe and other parts of the world have been facing due to an increase in wildfires.

Extreme weather patterns and global warming in 2023 alone resulted in what the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) called “record-breaking wildfire activity,” causing aerial firefighting capacity across the world to become increasingly overburdened.

Cargolux breaks into aerial firefighting Credit: Unsplash

Cargolux claims that its new Aquarius AFF arm will provide assistance in the fight against the wildfires that not only threaten human lives and natural resources, but also contribute to worldwide CO2 emissions, some 2,100 megatons globally in 2023 according to the CAMS. The new venture, the airline contends, is in line with its commitment to sustainability and will enable the company to lead a “solution-oriented project” to tackle one of the root causes of CO2 emissions.

“The inauguration of Aquarius Aerial Firefighting as a new business unit of Cargolux is an exciting new chapter in the company’s history. Over the past years, we have witnessed wildfires becoming a growing global issue that requires a rapid response. Not only do such fires emit significant amounts of CO2 but they pose a significant danger to lives and livelihoods. As a responsible corporate citizen, I see it as our responsibility to help tackle this problem. I look forward to Aquarius Aerial Firefighting becoming an integral part of the solution,” said Richard Forson, President and CEO of Cargolux.

Cargo giant

Long before moving into the field of aerial firefighting, Cargolux forged a solid position for itself as one of Europe’s leading all-cargo airlines. Operating a fleet of 30 Boeing 747-8 freighters and Boeing 747-400 freighters, the Luxembourg-based company serves a global network of over 75 destinations with its scheduled all-cargo flights as well as its charter services.

The firm that began its activities in 1970 has since then set up more than 85 offices in over 50 countries and created an extensive global trucking network that serves over 250 destinations.

In 2023 Cargolux became a pioneer in the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) as the first airline to uplift SAF with a sustainably sourced fuel from fully renewable waste and residue raw materials, at Luxembourg’s Findel airport. Using its sustainable fuel, the firm set out to operate a carbon neutral flight from Luxembourg to its largest hub in mainland China located in Zhengzhou.

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