Lufthansa is expected to make its long-delayed decision on acquiring its new widebody fleet within the next four weeks. The company’s board of directors tentatively plans to approve the investment at its mid-September meeting. The order will likely exceed 50 aircraft.
The carrier has been evaluating three options: an order for Boeing’s 787-10 or 777X, a mixed order for the 777X and the Airbus A350-900, or an all-A350 order that would include commitments for the -900 and the -1000.
While no decision has yet been made, and major last-minute changes are more than likely, some industry sources indicate that the airline is currently leaning towards a split order for the 777X and the A350.
The airline officially has said it is looking at either an order for the A350 or for the Boeing types, although some industry observers believe this position has been part of Lufthansa’s negotiating tactic.
Lufthansa has been studying the 777-9X in particular, which would mainly serve as a replacement for the airline’s Boeing 747-400 fleet.
The company does not yet fly 777s, but Lufthansa Cargo has ordered five 777Fs, the first of which is due to be delivered in October. Its subsidiary Austrian Airlines has four 777-200ERs, and Swiss International Air Lines has placed orders for six 777-300ERs. Aerologic, a joint venture of Lufthansa and DHL, flies eight 777Fs.
Lufthansa also is planning to replace its 747-400 and Airbus A340-300/600 fleet. The airline still has 48 A340s, which have become uneconomic to operate as fuel prices have risen, as well as 22 747-400s. The carrier plans to keep some of the 747s for several more years, but they will be changed into a two-class configuration.
As part of its drive for more efficiency, Lufthansa is looking at more distinct fleet positioning. Long-haul flying from its Frankfurt Airport hub will be predominantly allocated to the Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8 and 747-400 fleets with some A340s and A330s for thinner routes, but most of the A340s and A330s are to gradually transition to the Munich Airport hub.
The airline still is working on the details of how and when that move will be implemented.