Lufthansa is considering grounding its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. The announcement comes as the German flag carrier looks to cut costs amid a huge fall in global travel demand.
The coronavirus outbreak is having serious effects around the world. Airlines globally have seen a decrease in passenger demand due to the outbreak. As such, capacity has been slashed left, right and center. Now, Lufthansa, one of the world’s few Airbus A380 operators, has floated the idea of grounding its fleet of Airbus A380s temporarily. This is as the airline announced capacity will be cut by up to 50% in the coming weeks.
A slump in demand
Lufthansa has announced these latest measures to cope with a slump in demand. It should be noted that it is not definite that the A380 fleet will be grounded. Instead, it is merely an option that remains on the table.
Lufthansa appears to be affected more than some others by the outbreak of the disease. It already canceled some Asia bound flights in recent weeks. However, it is now having to cancel many more short-haul flights.
14 Airbus A380
The Lufthansa Group currently operates 14 Airbus A380. All of these are operated by the German flag carrier, Lufthansa, which the group is named after. The law aircraft are split across its two hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
In a statement earlier today the German flag carrier said:
“The extent to which the entire Airbus A380 fleet (14 aircraft) can be temporarily taken out of service in Frankfurt and Munich is currently being examined. This measure is designed to reduce the financial consequences of the slump in demand.”
What else is Lufthansa doing?
The measures to combat a fall in demand due to the global coronavirus outbreak aren’t limited to this Airbus A380 consideration, however.
On Wednesday Simple Flying reported that Lufthansa had effectively grounded 150 aircraft due to a fall in capacity. This was accompanied yesterday by an announcement from the airline that it had cut more than 7,000 flights from its schedule in March.
Lufthansa had said that it would need to cut up to 25% of short- and mid-haul flights as a result of the drop in demand. However, it seems as though the situation is slightly worse than the airline first though. Today it revised these figures. Now the German flag carrier has said that up to 50% of flights could be canceled in the coming weeks, depending on how the disease evolves.
Germany has the second-highest number of reported cases of the disease in Europe. According to World Health Organization data at the time of writing, 578 cases had been reported in Germany, behind 3,858 in Italy.
An excuse to ditch the A380?
Airlines are beginning to retire the first Airbus A380s after just 10 years in service. The aircraft require high load factors in order to remain economical, hence the reason for Lufthansa considering this temporary grounding.
The need for high load factors is a huge reason for why the Airbus A380 program is coming to an end, with just nine outstanding orders remaining. Hopefully, the measures that are being considered by Lufthansa are just temporary, and won’t eventually lead to the A380s being scrapped for the time being. Afterall, many who have flown in the superjumbo have had many good things to say about the experience.
What do you make of Lufthansa’s announcement? Is it a sensible course of action or an overreaction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.