Former Workhorse: Looking Back At Lufthansa’s A300 Operations

Following a flight from Rome Fiumicino to Frankfurt, Lufthansa retired the last of its A300s on July 1st, 2009. It was operated by D-AIAM, which was delivered in April 1987. Iran Airtour has since taken up the aircraft as EP-MNI. We look back at Lufthansa’s A300s.

Lufthansa A300
Iran’s ongoing sanctions provide a home to an array of rarer aircraft that would otherwise have been scrapped or turned into freighters. Photo: Dale Coleman via Wikimedia.

Lufthansa’s A300s

Lufthansa operated a total of 29, including the A300B2, A300B4, and the A300-600/600R (code: AB6). It is the latter that we look at in this article, the first of which was delivered to the German airline in March 1987 and lasted for 22 years – one year longer than for American Airlines.

The -600R had a longer range (hence the ‘R’) than previous variants. This resulted from an additional fuel tank, which helped increase maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and payload. It also had upgraded engines that produced more thrust. American was the launch customer of this specific variant.

Lufthansa’s A300-600/600Rs had 280 seats. The bigger size meant they were especially good machines for getting more ‘use’ out of slots at restricted airports and transporting more cargo on routes where this was an important consideration.

Lufthansa aircraft
Lufthansa last used the A300 in 2009. While they were mainly used on short routes, they were also used on a raft of longer and thinner long-haul services. However, there weren’t many over 3,000 miles. Photo: Dale Coleman via Wikimedia.

One-fifth of Lufthansa’s widebody flights

Between 2004 and 2009, Lufthansa had approximately 92,000 flights by the AB6, according to schedules information from aviation data experts Cirium. It had one in five of the airline’s widebody flights (21%). (This time period also saw the A310-300 and B767-300ER in Lufthansa’s fleet, both withdrawn in 2004.)

Because Lufthansa’s AB6s were especially used on higher-density short-haul routes, they had the third-highest number of widebody flights after the B747-400 and A340-300.

However, the nature of the type’s operation meant they fell far down the list if measured by available seat miles (ASMs; seats x miles flown). Indeed, the B747-400, A340-300, A340-600, and A330-300 all had more ASMs, as would be expected given they operated long-haul.

Lufthansa A300
Between 2004-2009, the average length of Lufthansa’s AB6 routes was 616 miles. Frankfurt to Heathrow was important because of the aircraft’s high density and cargo capacity. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia.

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Strong domestic and intra-Europe service

In the five years to 2009, 80% of Lufthansa’s A300 flights were on the following 10 routes; they had a highly concentrated network from Frankfurt. However, longer destinations also saw them, including Lahore, Karachi, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Khartoum, and Astana, all from its Frankfurt hub.

  1. Berlin Tegel to Frankfurt
  2. Frankfurt-Munich
  3. Frankfurt-Hamburg
  4. Frankfurt-London Heathrow
  5. Athens-Frankfurt
  6. Frankfurt-Rome Fiumicino
  7. Cairo-Frankfurt
  8. Barcelona-Frankfurt
  9. Frankfurt-Lisbon
  10. Frankfurt-Moscow Sheremetyevo
Lufthansa A300
Berlin Tegel to Frankfurt was Lufthansa’s #1 AB6 route by flights. Photo: Raimund Stehmann via Wikimedia.

Throwback to July 21st, 2004

On July 21st, 2004, Lufthansa had 64 departures by the AB6 from Frankfurt and Munich. Frankfurt had the overwhelming majority of services (59), including Amman and Beirut. As always, all times are local.

Departure timeFrom…To…
06:45Berlin TegelFrankfurt
07:05FrankfurtRome Fiumicino
07:05Paris CDGFrankfurt
07:10London HeathrowFrankfurt
07:25FrankfurtLondon Heathrow
08:05FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
08:40FrankfurtParis CDG
09:10London HeathrowFrankfurt
09:15FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
09:45FrankfurtLondon Heathrow
10:05Rome FiumicinoFrankfurt
10:25Berlin TegelFrankfurt
10:25FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
10:45Paris CDGFrankfurt
11:25Berlin TegelFrankfurt
12:15FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
12:25FrankfurtLondon Heathrow
12:50London HeathrowFrankfurt
14:10London HeathrowFrankfurt
14:35Berlin TegelFrankfurt
14:55MunichLondon Heathrow
15:00Berlin TegelMunich
16:00FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
16:15FrankfurtLondon Heathrow
17:10London HeathrowMunich
17:25FrankfurtMoscow Sheremetyevo
17:50Berlin TegelFrankfurt
17:55London HeathrowFrankfurt
18:10MunichLondon Heathrow
19:40FrankfurtBerlin Tegel
20:05London HeathrowMunich
21:25FrankfurtLondon Heathrow

London Heathrow was a major destination, with 14 movements on that day from both Frankfurt and Munich. These were timed to feed both hubs and the significant amount of point-to-point demand.

Did you fly Lufthansa’s A300s? If so, let us know your memories by commenting.