Lufthansa Reacts To Market Situation And Decommissions 18 Widebody Jets Including A380 & B747

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Lufthansa has decided to undertake a massive culling of their widebody fleet in order to react to the new realities of the aviation industry (read: extremely low demand).

Anticipating a slump in passenger numbers Lufthansa decided to get rid of 18 widebody aircraft which include Airbus A380, Airbus A340 and the old Boeing 747-400.

The airline has already planned to downsize the fleet by phasing out the old work horse, 747-400 which has long been the backbone of the Lufthansa long haul fleet. The A380 also fell into disfavor after just a few years of operation as it became difficult to fill up such large planes and it became known as a gas guzzler.

The COVID-19 effect has now landed a range of aircraft on the chopping block as Lufthansa just confirmed yesterday afternoon.

The Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG does not expect the aviation industry to return to pre-coronavirus crisis levels very quickly.  According to its assessment, it will take months until the global travel restrictions are completely lifted and years until the worldwide demand for air travel returns to pre-crisis levels.  Based on this evaluation, today the Executive Board has decided on extensive measures to reduce the capacity of flight operations and administration long term.

The decisions taken today will affect almost all flight operations of the Lufthansa Group.

At Lufthansa,

  • six Airbus A380s and
  • seven A340-600s as well as
  • five Boeing 747-400s

will be permanently decommissioned. In addition, eleven Airbus A320s will be withdrawn from short-haul operations.

The six A380s were already scheduled for sale to Airbus in 2022. The decision to phase out seven A340-600s and five Boeing 747-400s was taken based on the environmental as well as economic disadvantages of these aircraft types. With this decision, Lufthansa will be reducing capacity at its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

Furthermore, Lufthansa Cityline will also withdraw three Airbus A340-300 aircraft from service. Since 2015, the regional carrier has been operating flights to long-haul tourist destinations for Lufthansa.

Eurowings will also be reducing the number of its aircraft. In the short-haul segment, an additional ten Airbus A320s are planned to be phased out.

Eurowings long-haul business which is run under the commercial responsibility of Lufthansa, will also be reduced.

Lufthansa has planned to replace these jumbo four engine jets several years ago and has ordered a large number of Airbus A350, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets. The majority of A350’s have already been delivered and entered service while the B777 is delayed.

The carrier is also taking the opportunity to wipe the slate clean once and for all as far as Germanwings is concerned – the brand will disappear and services/routes will be absorbed by Eurowings.

In addition, the implementation of Eurowings objective of bundling flight operations into only one unit, which was defined before the crisis, will now be accelerated. Germanwings flight operations will be discontinued. All options resulting from this are to be discussed with the respective unions. …

In addition, the Lufthansa Group airlines have already terminated almost all wet lease agreements with other airlines.

The aim remains the same for all employees affected by the restructuring measures: to offer as many people as possible continued employment within the Lufthansa Group. Therefore, talks with unions and workers councils are to be arranged quickly to discuss, among other things, new employment models in order to keep as many jobs as possible.

Lufthansa has kept so many airlines alive on the sidelines that it has become quite difficult to keep an overview of things. You end up booking a flight from Bangkok to Munich for example and then it ends up being Eurowings operated by Sun Express.

Conclusion

Too bad the A380’s are going out of service as I really enjoyed that aircraft the most, especially in First Class. It was a very short life for the A380 in Lufthansa’s fleet especially compared to the B747 which will stay in the skies at least as the 747-800 version for many years to come.

Needless to say the golden years are over and it’s about time the unions in Germany realize this situation after living in a land of milk and honey for years and decades. Lufthansa will certainly use this opportunity to clean up and have to be very careful to survive at all. Currently there are discussions that the German government will take a stake of up to 40% in Lufthansa.

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