The Queen Is Back: Lufthansa Flies The Boeing 747-400 Again

Lufthansa is today bringing back the Boeing 747-400 after 18 months of not using the type. The airline grounded the older jumbo jets in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many airlines decided to retire their remaining Boeing 747-400s, Lufthansa instead decided to withdraw the giant Airbus A380 from its fleet.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747-400, Return
Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400 is back in the skies with passengers after 18 months. Oliver Rösler via Lufthansa

After a relatively miserable year and a half for Boeing 747-400 lovers, they finally have a reason to rejoice. Lufthansa is bucking the trend of retiring the aircraft, instead enlisting the type’s capacity until it finally takes delivery of its Boeing 777X order. Once these deliveries begin, the airline will switch to a one-in-one-out policy, like the Boeing 777Fs replacing the airline’s MD-11Fs.

Boeing 747-400 scheduled today

According to schedule data from aviation experts Cirium, the Boeing 747-400’s first passenger flight with Lufthansa since being grounded is planned for today. The LH786 service from Frankfurt to Qingdao in China is listed as being operated by the 747-400.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747-400, Return
Lufthansa booking engine screenshot.

The Lufthansa booking engine confirms this, as do numerous other third-party sources such as Expert Flyer and FlightRadar24.com With a scheduled departure time of 21:50, the flight is set to land after ten hours and 30 minutes at 14:20 the next day. According to FlightRadar24.com, the flight is expected to be operated by D-ABVX.

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While it’s wonderful to see the Queen of the Skies back where she belongs, it doesn’t seem as though Lufthansa’s fleet is fully back in the skies just yet. According to Cirium, Lufthansa has just 13 747-400 flights scheduled for the entire month. Most of these fall on October 31st, when the IATA winter schedule resumes.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747-400, Return
The route to Quindao. Photo: Cirium

The airline has 173 flights scheduled for November. This was revised down from 599 that were scheduled to use the type the previous week. The picture is similar in December, where the schedule was revised down by 458 flights, and in January, where 229 were removed. As is always the case with aircraft schedules, it is possible that the aircraft could be swapped out at short notice.

 A smaller fleet of Boeing 747-400s

While Lufthansa has brought the Boeing 747-400 back, it is in smaller numbers than it entered the crisis with. In total, just eight of the airline’s -400s remain in the fleet, compared to 19 Boeing 747-8s. The eight aircraft have an average age of 21.49 years, according to ch-aviation.com. The oldest is 23.69, while the youngest is 19.6.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747-400, Return
The Boeing 747-400s will be gradually phased out when the Boeing 777-9s arrive from 2023 onwards. Photo: Lufthansa

Between them, the aircraft have been in the skies for 792,266 hours, equating to 90.44 years of flight. While a flight with Lufthansa seems to be the best way to get onboard a Boeing 747-400, it may not last for long. A Lufthansa spokesperson previously told Simple Flying,

“Our eight Lufthansa B747-400 aircraft will get reactivated and taken out of storage step by step and put back in operation for the upcoming years. This is only until they will get replaced by the Boeing 777-9, also step by step. There are no fixed timelines on this exchange, however.”

Are you excited to see Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400s return to the skies? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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