**Update: 12/07/21 @ 11:38 UTC – A Lufthansa spokesperson has told Simple Flying that it has no plans to return the type to service.**
Up until now, it seemed quite certain that the Airbus A380 would never again operate passenger service for Lufthansa. Could we be wrong? Despite the airline selling six of its 14 superjumbos to Airbus and sending almost every other A380 to long-term storage, new insider sources suggest that the A380 could be coming back in 2022. Let’s investigate this rumor a little more closely.
Munich-based A380s in 2022?
The surprising information comes from German aviation site aero.de, which notes that the Airbus A380 will return to Lufthansa’s Munich hub in the summer of 2022. With the news coming from “an insider,” it’s said that the carrier is evaluating the reactivation of five A380s rather than the previously reported reactivation of its five A340-600s – something that Simple Flying reported on in late June.
The insider notes that the first class offerings of the A380, combined with its additional business and premium economy class seats, could “swing the pendulum to the A380.”
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Fleet retirement seemed certain
It indeed seemed all but certain that Lufthansa was saying goodbye to the Airbus A380 for good. The carrier had removed the type from its flight schedules while its own CEO has stated that he doesn’t see any future for the jet in Lufthansa’s fleet. Even before the global health crisis shattered the aviation industry, the airline’s chief was less-than-keen on the jet, with plans to downsize the fleet from 2022. In 2019 he said this of his ‘investment decision’ to sell six A380s back to Airbus:
“In addition to the cost-effectiveness of the A350 and B787, the significantly lower CO2 emissions of this new generation of long-haul aircraft was also a decisive factor in our investment decision,” – Carsten Spohr, CEO, Lufthansa
Even as recently as this past weekend, there was news that Lufthansa was offering its A380 pilots an extra bonus for accepting early retirement.
Why the A380 could reappear at Lufthansa
Lufthansa will likely keep its plan for the A380 under wraps until there is a little more certainty on the situation. But there are some factors that make this ‘insider information’ a possibility:
- Unlike Air France and its statement on the A380s retirement, Lufthansa has yet to actually make a clear and official announcement on retiring the A380. With the jets in long-term storage, the airline can move in either direction.
- Like Carsten Spohr, Etihad’s CEO has also been vocal about the A380 leaving Etihad. While the Middle Eastern carrier has also not yet made an official announcement, it has at least removed the A380 from its official website. With Lufthansa, the A380 and its seat map remain on the airline website.
- While daily case counts are spiking across much of Asia, travel is resuming in a big way in the United States and parts of Europe. So much so that Delta is reportedly acquiring used jets to backfill its aggressive aircraft retirements. All of this has been made possible because of rising vaccination rates- widely hailed as the only solid way out of this crisis.
As aero.de rightfully points out, Lufthansa must also account for delivery delays for the upcoming 777X. FAA certification (or lack thereof) might see the timeline for the new Boeing widebody pushed back by another year. Thus, Lufthansa will have to do its best to predict its future needs in an environment that offers very little certainty when it comes to supply and demand.
UPDATE: Simple Flying has reached out to Lufthansa for comment on the rumor. A spokesperson told us that the airline had no plans to return the A380 to service.
Do you think Lufthansa should reactivate the A380 because of the factors listed above? Or should it say ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to the type for good, and focus its efforts on twin-engines? Let us know in the comments.