UPDATE 1-Lufthansa Cargo sees airline partnership by mid-year
* CEO says partnership would expand network, cut costs
* Lufthansa Cargo eyes second partnership in 2015
* CEO eyes significant improvement in opg profit this year
* Lufthansa shares up 1.3 pct, in line with Dax (Adds comments from CEO on partnerships, freighter plans)
FRANKFURT, March 25 (Reuters) - Lufthansa Cargo, the air freight arm of Germany's largest airline, aims to set up a partnership with an airline outside of the Lufthansa Group by the middle of this year ahead of further cooperation deals, it said on Tuesday.
Karl Ulrich Garnadt, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, said the aim of such partnerships would be to increase the number of routes and destinations Lufthansa Cargo could offer while helping to cut costs by taking advantage of the partner's logistics handling facilities, for example.
"We are in talks with more than one airline, a second partnership should follow in 2015," Garnadt said.
Air freight companies are coming under increased price pressure because of a growing number of passenger services carrying cargo in the belly of the aircraft.
With Middle Eastern airlines in particular expanding routes fast, that has put prices under pressure and forced some airlines, such as British Airways and Air France to scale back their own use of freighters. Continued...