Lufthansa Considers Swapping Orders To Smaller Planes

Lufthansa is considering swapping some of its orders to smaller aircraft types, according to CEO Carsten Spohr. Spohr made the comments during a university lecture for the London School of Economics German Society, according to the publication Bloomberg.

Lufthansa, Airbus A350, Boeing 777X
Lufthansa is looking to downgrade its widebody aircraft orders, according to CEO Carsten Spohr. Photo: Lufthansa

Around the world, airlines are hurting from the pandemic. For many, this has led to altering their fleets, either through early retirement or long term storage. Lufthansa is no exception, having removed many of its most gas-guzzling giants such as the A340-600, Boeing 747-400, and Airbus A380s from service. Last year, Simple Flying revealed that the airline had enacted an agreement with Airbus to slow its deliveries.

Looking for smaller aircraft

According to Bloomberg, Lufthansa Group CEO today told a London School of Economics Symposium that the German flag carrier was looking to downgrade some of its widebody aircraft orders. The airline is set to be the launch customer for the Boeing 777X, with 20 firm orders for the type. Initially, Lufthansa had 34 firm orders for the 777X, but it changed 14 orders to options back in November 2019.

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In addition to the Boeing orders, the airline group has firm orders for 43 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. 17 of these have already been delivered. The airline has already begun repainting its first A350s into its new livery.

Lufthansa, Airbus A350, Boeing 777X
Lufthansa is set to become the launch customer of the Boeing 777X with 20 firm orders. Photo: Rolf Bewersdorf via Lufthansa

Bloomberg adds that the airline is in discussions with both of the major plane manufacturers and Embraer. Spohr reportedly said that ‘the manufacturers are showing flexibility in the discussions’. However, both Airbus and Boeing declined to comment to the publication.

Which aircraft could Lufthansa swap to?

Depending on how much smaller Lufthansa is looking could rely on which aircraft it is in discussions over. While it would be sad to see the airline cut its 777X order, other airlines have done so, with Emirates eyeing more 787s. This is an option the Lufthansa Group could take with several 787s already on order. Last month Boeing revealed that its firm 777X orders had fallen by a third.

Lufthansa, Falkland Islands, Airbus A350
Lufthansa has already taken delivery of 17 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Photo: Vincenzo Pace –

However, as far as Airbus goes, the airline has several options. Firstly, there is the Airbus A330neo. As the airline already owns the A330, this could be a reasonable option. However, there is also the option that the airline could go even smaller, eyeing the long-range and extra-long-range versions of the A321neo. This would leave it with a far smaller aircraft, but it would be easier to fill pending recovery of the aviation industry.

Spohr told the students that he doubts whether business travel on both sides of the Atlantic will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s talks about downgrading widebody orders? Do you think it will go ahead with such a plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!