Due to factors such as delayed deliveries of new Boeing 777-9s, Lufthansa intends to continue flying its recommissioned Airbus A380s into the late 2020s or early 2030s.
According to the airline’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, putting the double-deck type back into service will help Lufthansa to expand globally even if supply chain and quality concerns hinder new aircraft deliveries.
Lufthansa restarted A380 flights in June after suspending them during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Late 20s, early 30s,” Spohr adds when asked how long Lufthansa hopes to keep its Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered A380s in service. “It depends on demand and when Airbus and Boeing can deliver additional planes.”
Lufthansa halted its 14-strong A380 aircraft during the Covid-19 pandemic. Six of the planes were subsequently sold.
The airline, therefore, decided to give the A380 a reprieve: in June, Lufthansa put one of the planes back into service as part of a strategy to recommission six of them.
However, Lufthansa’s senior management has agreed to expand the active fleet to include all eight of its remaining A380s by 2024.
“The eight we own will all be back… including with a new business class product,” Spohr added.
Lufthansa runs three jumbos on routes from Munich to New York and Boston and plans to bring them to other destinations, such as New Delhi and Washington-Dulles International Airport, by 2025.
Spohr views the double-deckers as a critical tool that will allow Lufthansa to backfill capacity that it planned to have but does not have due to Airbus and Boeing failing to deliver on delivery obligations.
Lufthansa can continue its worldwide growth with the A380s, he says. Other airlines that use A380s include British Airways, Emirates, Korean Air, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines.
Boeing’s ongoing delays in certification and service entry of the 777-9 have notably affected Lufthansa’s fleet strategy. The German airline and Emirates are “launch customers” for the 777-9.
Boeing delayed the first 777-9 delivery by two years, until 2025, in 2022, citing certification delays due to increased scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to Boeing data, Lufthansa has placed orders for 20 777-9s.
According to Spohr, Lufthansa is additionally waiting for delayed Airbus deliveries: “We have A320s sitting on the ground in Toulouse and Hamburg.” In Toulouse, there are A350s on the ground. We’re now waiting for practically every aircraft.”