Key Points:

  • Lufthansa plans to operate its recommissioned Airbus A380s until the late 2020s or early 2030s, primarily due to delays in the delivery of new Boeing 777-9s and other aircraft from Airbus.

  • The airline aims to bring all eight of its remaining A380s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900, back into service by 2024, offering new business-class products and aiding international expansion to destinations such as New Delhi and Washington-Dulles airport.

  • Lufthansa is grappling with the slower than expected certification process for the 777-9s and delays in receiving its ordered Airbus A320neo-family jets and A350s, forcing the carrier to adjust its fleet plan.

A380s to Aid in Lufthansa's International Expansion amidst 777-9 Delays

FRANKFURT — Despite facing considerable delays in new aircraft deliveries from Boeing and Airbus, Lufthansa is betting on its Airbus A380s to ensure a robust international expansion. The CEO of the German airline, Carsten Spohr, confirmed plans to operate the double-deck type into the late 2020s or early 2030s.

The decision comes in light of a slew of disruptions, including Boeing delaying its first 777-9 delivery until 2025, a setback that particularly affects Lufthansa as one of the launch customers holding orders for 20 777-9s. Supply chain and quality issues impacting Airbus have also put the airline in a tight spot, causing delays in the delivery of 51 A320neo-family jets and 38 A350s.

“Late 20s, early 30s,” Spohr outlined when queried about the operational timeline of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered A380s. The CEO cited the uncertain delivery schedules of Airbus and Boeing as determining factors in this decision.

In an effort to cope with the current delivery challenges, Lufthansa envisages a pivotal role for the A380s in facilitating international expansion. Initially grounded during the Covid-19 pandemic, with six units sold, the A380s have been gradually reintegrated into service. Following a strategic revision, the top management resolved to deploy all eight of its retained A380s by 2024, each renovated to include a novel business-class product.

Lufthansa presently operates three A380s, servicing routes such as Munich to New York and Boston. The airline is formulating plans to further utilize these jumbos to reach more destinations, including New Delhi and Washington-Dulles airport by 2025.

With its revised fleet strategy pivoting around the A380s, Lufthansa aligns with several global airlines like British Airways and Emirates Airline, who also rely on A380s for their operations, as evidenced by Cirium data. Spohr perceives the double-deckers as essential assets that can offset the capacity deficit stemming from the unfulfilled delivery promises of Airbus and Boeing.

While navigating through these operational upheavals, Lufthansa maintains its commitment to fulfilling the travel demands by actively reshaping its fleet plan amidst the ongoing delivery delays and heightened scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration towards the certification of new models.