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Frankfurt, Germany - Lufthansa is preparing to adjust its fleet to meet the high demand for air cargo amidst the global pandemic crisis. The airline is examining some changes in its fleet structure and plans to renegotiate its existing aircraft orders.

The German carrier had previously planned to retire its remaining six MD-11F jets by the end of this year, but the global crisis generated by the global virus outbreak changed everything, an insider told the German aviation news portal The MD-11Fs of the German operator will presumably stay in service beyond 2020, according to the same source.

The company is also in talks with Boeing to modify its existing orders. Lufthansa is likely to replace its some of its 777-9 orders with the 777Fs. Lufthansa has 20 777-9 in its order book and is the launch customer of the type with the Gulf carrier Emirates Airlines. Boeing postponed first deliveries to the spring of 2021 due to some program delays.

If Boeing agrees with Lufthansa, the operator could receive another Boeing 777F in October 2020. German carrier currently has seven Boeing 777F in its fleet and two on order.

Lufthansa does not expect a full recovery in air travel before three years. According to the airline, there will be hardly any space in the fleet for new long-haul jets in the foreseeable future.

Six Airbus A380, three Airbus A340-300, seven Airbus A340-600 and five Boeing 747-400 jets have already been grounded and will not be reactivated. Germany's national airline plans to offer significantly fewer seats on long-haul flights when travel restrictions are lifted.

In contrast the air travel, the air cargo market proved to be highly important during the pandemic crisis. After Easter, Lufthansa Cargo increased its freighter flight frequency to Asia with 51 additional flights per week.

The tight program cannot be managed with seven 777Fs and six MD-11Fs only. The airline is therefore now also using some of its Airbus A330-300s and A350-900s on all-cargo flights.

The Future of 777X program may be at Risk

According to the Seattle Times, there is even speculation that the Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific could cancel its orders for Boeing's new generation wide-body jet. Emirates, which is one of the launch customers of the 777X, is also relying on state aid to survive. If it also decides to reduce its orders, there may be a hard time for Boeing's 777X program.
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