Lufthansa had placed an order for 25 A350-900 with an option for 30 more A350-900 in September 2013. It also had placed an order for 20 Boeing 777-9 with an option for 14 more Boeing 777-9. As of now, Lufthansa has taken delivery of 12 A350-900 with the remaining to be delivered by 2023.
This week, Lufthansa Group placed a further order for 20 A350-900 and 20 Boeing 787-9 to be delivered from late 2022 to 2027. These aircraft are primarily meant to replace current four-engine aircraft operating in the Lufthansa Group. The rendering in the press release showed an A350 in Lufthansa’s livery and the 787-9 in Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines’ livery.
However, it was mentioned that,
The decision regarding which airline will deploy the aircraft at which hub will be made at a later date.
Lufthansa will also be selling 6 A380s back to Airbus in 2022/23 for an undisclosed amount. This will bring the total aircraft in their fleet to 8 A380s.
According to Carsten Spohr, CEO and Chairman of Lufthansa Group,
By replacing four-engine planes with new models, we are laying a sustainable foundation for our future in the long run. In addition to the cost-effectiveness of the A350 and B787, the significantly lower CO2 emissions of this new generation of long-haul aircraft was also a decisive factor in our investment decision. Our responsibility for the environment is becoming more and more important as a criterion for our decisions.
Lufthansa Group’s fleet renewal plan
Lufthansa’s widebody fleet consists of 16 A330-300, 15 A340-300, 17 A340-600, 12 A350-900, 14 A380, 13 747-400 and 19 747-8. This fleet is split (not evenly) across Lufthansa’s Frankfurt and Munich base.
While the A330-300, A350-900, A380 and 747-8 are relatively newer aircraft, the rest are old. So as a long term fleet renewal strategy to keep the fuel bill down, Lufthansa will replace the four-engine fuel guzzlers with newer twin-engine aircraft.
The 25 A350-900 initially ordered were meant to replace the 23 A340-600 (now down to 17 A340-600) in Lufthansa’s fleet. The incoming A350 and probably the 787-9 will replace the 15 A340-300 in Lufthansa’s fleet.
The 13 Boeing 747-400 and 6 A380-800 will be replaced by 20 Boeing 777-9. Lufthansa is the launch customer for the Boeing 777-9. Lufthansa will receive seven 777-9 in 2020, and these will be based at Frankfurt. This batch of 777-9 will replace some of the 747-400 and hence won’t feature a First Class cabin.
Lufthansa will debut a new Business class on the incoming Boeing 777-9. Another batch of 777-9 may feature a new First Class cabin since Lufthansa wants to keep the ratio of aircraft having a First Class cabin at 50%. These will replace the 6 A380 which will be sold back to Airbus in 2022/23. Also, we may see a First class cabin on some A350 or 787-9 as Lufthansa phases out the A340-600 which feature First class.
Swiss took delivery of 10 Boeing 777-300ER to replace 10 A340-300 aircraft in its fleet. It has two more Boeing 777-300ER due to be delivered in 2020. As of now, Swiss has a widebody fleet of 15 A330-300, 5 A340-300 and ten 777-300ER aircraft.
The first SWISS Airbus A340 with a totally refurbished interior in all three seating cabins took off from Zurich today on its first revenue flight to Tokyo. Find out more: https://t.co/irurssjkch pic.twitter.com/XVVJDwQVZN
— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) March 7, 2019
Swiss has started refurbishing the A340-300 to feature same hard product as the rest of the fleet; with the first one already flying. It looks like a few newly ordered 787-9 will replace the 5 A340-300 in Swiss’ fleet at a later stage.
Austrian Airlines among the Lufthansa group needs a new long haul fleet sooner than any other member. Austrian’s widebody fleet consists of 6 767 and seven 777-200ER aircraft.
Out of the 7 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, three 777s are ~17 years old, three 777s are 20-21 year old, and 1 777 is 12 years old. The youngest 777-200ER is on lease from AerCap for eight years starting 2018, so it will be phased out on completion of its lease in 2026.
The 767s, on the other hand, is much older. Three of them are 18-20 years old, and the rest 3 are ~27 years. In an interview last year, Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Group CEO told,
We need to be able to invest. As of today, Austrian Airlines has not reached that capability yet. We will not renew its wide-body fleet in the near future as the carrier’s financial situation does not allow for such an investment. The refinancing for a new intercontinental fleet for Austrian is unaffordable right now.
Well, it looks like the first 787-9 to be delivered to Lufthansa group may come to Austrian Airlines in late 2022 when the oldest 767 will be 30 years old.
Lufthansa and A380
Lufthansa’s 14 A380s were based at Frankfurt airport till Summer of 2018. Lufthansa decided to shift 5 A380s to Munich due to a spat with Fraport, operator of Frankfurt airport. This week, Lufthansa confirmed that they would shift two more A380s to Munich in 2020. Post this transfer, Lufthansa will have 7 A380s based at Frankfurt and Munich each.
This will change in 2022/23 when Lufthansa sells 6 A380s back to Airbus. The first A380 was delivered to Lufthansa in 2010, so they will be 12-13 years old when they will be sold back. The decision to base the remaining 8 A380s post 2022/23 will be taken in 2021. It would be sensible to base them in Frankfurt but let’s see.
Lufthansa joins the likes of Air France and Qatar Airways who will reduce their A380 fleet in the coming years.
Currently, Lufthansa’s 9 A380s (D-AIMA/C/F/I/J/K/L/M/N) based at Frankfurt hub fly to Bangkok, Delhi, Houston and Los Angeles. The 5 A380 (D-AIMB/D/E/G/H) based at Munich hub fly to Hong Kong, Beijing and Los Angeles during Summer. During winter’s they operate flights to Hong Kong, San Francisco and Miami from Munich.
Looking through the website, there are a few changes in A380 routes.
Lufthansa started A380 operations to Delhi from 2014. The Delhi – Frankfurt route is operated by an A380 daily year-round. It looks like that will change. A 747-400 will operate the route instead of A380 from January 2, 2020.
With this Lufthansa will stop offering first class to Delhi entirely, as it operates an A350 on Munich-Delhi route. Let’s see if this change is temporary or permanent. Only Bengaluru will retain the Lufthansa First class service in India as Lufthansa operates a 747-8 on that route. As of now, Mumbai won’t see a return of the 747-8 this winter according to the schedule. But then again, these are early days, and there is a whole Summer schedule for them to change their mind.
Lufthansa operates 5x weekly flights on Munich-Hong Kong route during winters and upgrades it to daily in Summer. Post the shift of 5 A380 to Munich, Lufthansa started operating year-round A380 service on Munich-Hong Kong. But from January 2, 2020, an A350 will operate the route instead of A380. Let’s see if the A380 will again operate the route from Summer 2020.
[Editor’s note: Flown this route and I would be surprised that the A350 swaps an A380 given this is a premium heavy route and goes full in Business Class)
Lufthansa group is pursuing a fleet renewal strategy. It intends to phase out older four engine aircraft and replace them with A350, 787-9 and 777-9. We may not see a Boeing 787-9 in Lufthansa livery at all. They may use the A350s for replacing the A340s, some older A330s and for growth. The 787-9s may head to Austrian Airlines and Swiss only to keep fleet simplicity. Well, we will get more clarity once Lufthansa takes to the chalkboard to review their fleet distribution strategy.
The A380s don’t seem to work well with Lufthansa who keeps on shuffling them. Let’s see which routes are upgauged to an A380 from Munich next year.
What are your thoughts on Lufthansa’s fleet renewal plan?