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A Lufthansa A320neo in Oslo (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Lufthansa Group Restructures Fleet Following COVID-19

German flag carrier Lufthansa has announced it will be fast-tracking the retirement of a number of aircraft from its fleet, anticipating a reduction in air travel following the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a media statement released by the airline, the Lufthansa board does not believe the demand for global travel will return to pre-crisis levels and could take months before all countries relax individual travel restrictions.

Lufthansa Group is the largest airline in Europe with a fleet of more than 700 aircraft scattered across many subsidiary airlines such as Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Swiss International Air Lines, to name a few. The decision to reduce fleet numbers will affect all airlines that fall under the Lufthansa umbrella.

Within Lufthansa mainline, which has a fleet of around 300 aircraft, six Airbus A380 out of a fleet of 14 will be expeditiously retired. The airline had planned on retiring six A380s by the end of 2023 with the intention to be replaced by the 777-9. The largest operator of the Airbus A340 family will also retire seven A340-600s out of 17 early. Lufthansa will also permanently remove five out of 13 747-400 from active service. The carrier expected to remove all 747s by 2025.

The airline states the reason to phase out seven A340-600s and five 747-400s was taken “based on the environment as well as economic disadvantages of these aircraft types.”

The mainline fleet will lose eleven A320ceo aircraft out of a fleet of 74, 18 were due to be retired by 2022 with the airline already operating 23 A320neo and a further 92 to be delivered.

Lufthansa’s regional carrier Lufthansa Cityline, which conducts domestic and European flights, has operated three A340-300 aircraft on behalf of the mainline carrier to tourist destinations since 2015, these will be withdrawn.

Subsidiary carrier Eurowings, which also has a subsidiary called Eurowings Europe, will be removing 10 A320 aircraft. The airline has a fleet of around 150 aircraft including wet-leased A330s for long haul operations, this will be reduced. Germanwings, which operates under the Eurowings brand with 33 aircraft will be discontinued

According to the statement, the restructuring program that is already taking place at Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines will be intensified with both companies reducing their fleet. Swiss will follow the same procedure and will look to delay the delivery of new aircraft on top of phasing out and older aircraft.

The sweeping changes made by the board will have huge ramifications with employees. “All options resulting from this are to be discussed with the respective unions,” Lufthansa said.

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