Lufthansa’s latest aircraft order comes at the expense of its majestic superjumbo Airbus A380-800.
Earlier this week, Lufthansa ordered 20 Boeing 787-9s and 20 additional Airbus A350-900s. But its deal with Airbus came with a caveat. In exchange, Airbus had to buy back six of Lufthansa’s 14 Airbus A380s. Reason given: economics.
Oh, what a sad few weeks this has been for the A380 program. Failing to win a new big order from Emirates, Airbus scrapped the program. Air France announced it would retire half of its A380 fleet (five aircraft). Qatar said it would retire its entire A380 fleet. Now Lufthansa will shed nearly half of its A380 fleet as well.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Sphor tried to spin as a move for the environment:
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.
But for those of us who love the A380, this represents very sad news.
Don’t expect to see 787-9s in Lufthansa livery. My bet is that the 787-9s will go to Austrian and SWISS while the A350s will go to Lufthansa, which already has an open order for 25 A350s (12 already have already been delivered).
The A380 phaseout will not begin until 2022, but enjoy them while they last. The new deliveries, including the initial 777-9s, will not have first class. The remaining eight A380s may remain in the Lufthansa fleet until the late 2020s.