***Updated 09:30 04/28 to include details of a new agreement over the aircraft***
Lufthansa has removed another of its Boeing 747 aircraft from Twente Airport in the Netherlands. The three aircraft have recently been the basis of a legal battle due to a deadline to remove them from the airport.
Lufthansa is currently one of the leading Boeing 747 operators, utilizing its 747-8 aircraft fleet. However, its older 747-400 fleet remains grounded due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry. Despite not looking to fly any passengers on the 747-400 any time soon, the airline is keen to fly each of the 747-400s parked in the Netherlands before the end of June.
A Twente Boeing 747 departure
As spotted by the German-language publication aeroTELEGRAPH, one of three Boeing 747-400 aircraft left at Twente Airport departed the storage facility yesterday. The aircraft departing was D-ABTK. According to data from Planespotters.net, the aircraft took its first flight and was delivered to Lufthansa in December 2001. As such, the aircraft, named Kiel, is 19.4 years old.
The aircraft was flown out to Twente Airport in late June 2020 for storage. However, it departed yesterday at 14:00 as LH9921, according to data from RadarBox.com. The aircraft climbed to a cruise altitude of 23,000 feet.
'Queen of the skies' LH9921 (D-ABTK) zojuist vertrokken naar @TeruelAirport vanaf @twenteairport. Daar zal ze opnieuw geparkeerd worden. 🛫
De twee andere Lufthansa's blijven nog even! pic.twitter.com/kC6NsKNr8k
— Twente Airport (@twenteairport) April 26, 2021
It had been intended that the aircraft would be moved to the Spanish aircraft storage facility in Teruel. This is where most of Lufthansa’s other aircraft in long-term storage is located, including the entire Airbus A340-600 fleet. However, aeroTELEGRAPH reports that landing in Teruel wouldn’t be possible due to poor weather. This previously delayed an Airbus A380 flight to the airport. As such, the aircraft is now resting its wings at Lufthansa’s main Frankfurt hub, where it landed at 14:42 after just 42 minutes in the air.
Why not just keep the aircraft in Twente?
It would make sense to keep the Boeing 747s where they are being stored in an ideal world. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Boeing 747s are currently not permitted to depart from Twente Airport, given their weight. It could cause damage to the facilities.
However, Lufthansa didn’t want to leave the aircraft at the airport forever. Following a petition to the country’s aviation authorities, a one-off permission was granted for Lufthansa to fly the 747s already at Twente out of the airport. The problem is that this permission expires at the end of June. After this date, the aircraft will be stuck at the airport and would have to be dismantled there.
Simple Flying previously reported that Twente Airport is keen to keep the aircraft. It seems that if Lufthansa is forced to remove the aircraft early to protect its assets, the airport would be held in breach of its contract, which would wipe out the money already generated from the storage contract.
However, there has been some positive movement in the situation. As reported by aeroTELEGRAPH, a court has ruled that the remaining two Boeing 747s can stay at the site until 2022.
What does Lufthansa say?
The airline has two more 747s in Twente that still need to be removed. These are D-ABTL and D-ABVX. In a written statement to Simple Flying, a Lufthansa spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“After the arrival of the Lufthansa aircraft at Twente Airport, the Dutch Aviation Authority changed an existing certificate for that airport. Previously, aircraft in size category E (like a 744) were allowed to take off and land for non-commercial MRO purposes and for storage. This assessment was then revised, so that aircraft in this category are only allowed to land (but not take off) right now.”
They went on to add,
“Twente Airport was able to review the decision in court and temporary exemption was granted to depart B744s until 30 June. Up to now, there is no indication or perspective to exit LHs B744s beyond this deadline. In this light, LH is working out alternatives scenarios to depart its remaining 3 B744s from ENS.”
When do you think the two remaining aircraft will be removed from the site? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!