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Lufthansa Cargo, ANA get approval for freight joint venture

FRANKFURT, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Lufthansa Cargo and All Nippon Airways will launch a freight services joint venture between Europe and Japan to reduce costs in a tough cargo market, after gaining antitrust approval in Japan.

The airlines will cooperate on network planning, pricing, sales and handling by the end of this year in the first such cargo venture between two major global airlines, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

Cargo airlines have come under pressure as fast-growing passenger carriers such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines use larger planes on more routes, allowing them to transport more cargo in the holds.

Lufthansa Cargo, the freight arm of the German airline, said earlier this year it was hoping to agree a first partnership deal in 2014, with a second to follow in 2015.

Lufthansa Group Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said in July the carrier was in talks with United Continental Holdings about working more closely on cargo operations. Lufthansa and United already cooperate on passenger routes,

Airlines body IATA said on Tuesday that cargo volumes in Europe were stuttering in comparison with elsewhere in the world as the crisis in Ukraine and Russia weighed on the region's economies.

Air France and British Airways have scaled back the size of their cargo operations.

Lufthansa Cargo has lowered its profit aim for the year and also postponed a decision on whether to exercise an option for five more 777F freight planes.

Shares in Lufthansa were up 2.6 percent at 0822 GMT, among the top gainers on the Dax index of German leading shares, while ANA closed up 1 percent.

Lufthansa and ANA already have a revenue-sharing agreement on passenger flights.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by David Clarke)