The oldest widebody aircraft in the Lufthansa Group completed its final passenger flight for Austrian Airlines this weekend. Now the nearly 30-year-old Boeing 767 will remain in Vienna before returning across the Atlantic to an Arizona boneyard in March. By the start of 2022, 28 planes will have left the carrier’s fleet, including two more 767s.
Back across the Atlantic in March
The post-pandemic fleet downsizing is underway across the globe. Austrian Airlines confirmed Wednesday that it would be sending the first of its Boeing 767 aircraft to retirement in March. The plane, OE-LAT, operated its last passenger flight this weekend. Flight OS66 departed Chicago at 16:31 on Saturday, December 9th, and landed in Vienna at 08:04 on Sunday, December 10th.
OE-LAT is the oldest widebody aircraft of the Lufthansa Group. It has been in service with Austrian for 20 years following the carrier’s takeover of Lauda in 2001. Over the following weeks it “will undergo all the necessary preparations for handover” before departing for the US. Previous reports would suggest it will fly to Arizona and then be taken apart.
It will be followed by the retirement of two more of Austrian’s 767s in the fall. OE-LAX and OE-LAW, both just over 28 years of age, are also scheduled to be phased out but will remain in service until then. What will become of them following their exit from the fleet is still uncertain.
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Fleet of 61 planes by 2022
This will leave Austrian with three Boeing 767s in the fleet, all between 20 and 22 years old. Meanwhile, Austrian has an ambitious downsizing project over the coming year. By the start of 2022, the airline has confirmed a total of 28 aircraft will have left the fleet, leaving the carrier with just over 60 planes.
Beyond the three aforementioned 767s, this includes 18 De Havilland Canada Dash 8 turboprop planes, and all of its seven Airbus A319s. Ten of the former have already exited, while over half of the latter are currently parked.
Could they be taken on for cargo?
There is precedence for passengers 767s making it onto the second-hand market as converted freighters. Most recently Amazon made headlines for picking up three of the type from Delta Air Lines, and another four from WestJet, to add to its already substantial fleet of 46 Boeing 767 conversions.
Twenty-two of these have been delivered since the beginning of 2020, and a couple of the Amazon Air adopted 767s are already over 30 years old. All hope might not yet be lost for some of the Austrian widebodies.
Have you flown on Austrian’s 767s? Do you think they have any chance at an ongoing career, or is this it for them? What does this mean for Austrian’s long-haul operations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.