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Streamlining The Fleet: Lufthansa Group
With a number of 710 units, Lufthansa Group holds the title for the biggest aircraft fleet in Europe. Last week we reported on the planned configuration of the coming Airbus A350-900 for SWISS International Airlines. The entire group bets strongly on the type. What else is in the cards for the Lufthansa Group?
Bug Or Feature?
It is an interesting fact about the Group’s fleet that it contains virtually every modern type of widebody aircraft on the market. It is at Lufthansa itself that, on one side, the passengers could still experience the icons of the skies – Airbus A340 and Boeing 747. On the other side, it is not hard to spot a brand new Airbus A350 or Boeing 787, and in a few short years – even the upcoming Boeing 777-X. The diversity might be a feast for aviation enthusiasts but is probably a nightmare for the maintenance, fleet planning or financial departments at the company’s premises.
In its 2022 Annual Report, the Group provides detailed information on the current state of the fleet. Unsurprisingly, the total number of aircraft decreased from 2019 by 53 units – from 763 to 710. With the retirement of 15 Bombardier Q Series aircraft, Austrian Airlines took the biggest hit proportionally to the total fleet size. The rest of the reductions might be accredited to parts of Lufthansa’s Airbus A319, Boeing 747 and Bombardier CRJ fleets being retired.
What is surprising is that the Airbus A380 fleet remained technically intact, although most of the planes are still parked on the ground. Be that as it may, this is a temporary solution that some carriers introduced to mitigate the impact of still ruptured supply chains and subsequent delivery delays on the new aircraft.
Not For Long…
…or at least not for too long. Back in 2020 Lufthansa presented a plan to arrive at the “New Normal”. The streamlined fleet will be lighter by 6 older aircraft types. It’s the Airbus A380 and both variants of Airbus A340 together with the Boeing 747-400 “classic” from the four-engine bunch. A significant reduction that leaves Lufthansa with only the most modern variant of the 747 Jumbojet.
From the Boeing 777 and Airbus 330 fleets, the smaller “-200” variants are deemed to be retired, leaving the larger ones still in the fleet. Last but not least the Boeing 767 frame will be retired completely.
The replacement plan for the mentioned types is already on the way. The Group will still operate a diverse group of widebody aircraft, but the key will be the allocation among the brands. While SWISS will be assigned only the 777s and A350s, Austrian will be equipped with a fleet of 787s to tackle its thinner routes, and Brussels Airlines together with Eurowings will utilize A330s for the low-yielding markets.
While the current state of the Lufthansa Group fleet is far from ideal, the set long-term vision is strongly pursued. Lufthansa’s scale allows to support multiple different aircraft types, but it is not necessary to have all the different aircraft types. It is a very distinct feat of the Lufthansa Group that the different brands, operating from different hubs, allow for an interesting dimension of fleet planning.
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