Superjumbo Struggle: Lufthansa May Retire All Airbus A380s

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Lufthansa has been reported to be making much deeper cuts to its fleet than initially anticipated. People close to the matter have claimed that all its A380s could be slated for retirement, alongside all its 747-400s and more of its A340s. Such reductions in fleet could mean that a greater number of its workforce will be let go of, augmenting the 22,000 job losses already made public by the airline.

Lufthansa, Airbus A380, Grounded
Lufthansa’s A380s may already have taken their last flight. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

Deeper fleet cuts

Lufthansa’s fleet shakeup is looking to be a whole lot deeper than originally thought. The German airline already announced a raft of early aircraft retirements, amounting to some 100 aircraft, but now it seems many more could leave the fleet.

According to reporting in Bloomberg, the airline is looking to retire its remaining Airbus A380s, as well as all of its 747-400s and the bulk of its A340s. This information reportedly came from ‘people familiar with the matter,’ who requested not to be named.

The impact of this unexpected shrinkage could further deepen the job cuts already deemed necessary at the carrier. Lufthansa has so far announced that 22,000 jobs could be lost at the airline, but a further contraction of the fleet size could end up increasing this number.

Lufthansa, boeing 747, Scrapped
The airline could be losing all its 747-400s too. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

As of the end of June, Lufthansa was thought to be retaining eight A380s, 43 A340s, and 27 747s. Many of the aircraft are currently parked, including all the A380s. If the rumors are to be believed, a large number of these planes may already have taken their last passenger flight, although some of the younger A340s and for sure the 747-8is will undoubtedly make a comeback.

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Early ends for the A380

The A380 has been one of the worst affected models as a result of the COVID crisis. Air France quickly pulled its remaining superjumbos from service, accelerating the already planned retirement of the type. Other airlines have placed the planes in long-term storage, including British Airways and Qantas.

For Lufthansa, it was hoped that a small fleet of A380s would remain. Early on in the crisis, it announced the retirement of six of the type, but it was thought the remaining eight would eventually return to service.

Lufthansa, Airbus A380, Grounded
It was hoped that eight of the type would eventually come back into service. Photo: Lufthansa

As well as the A380, Lufthansa had confirmed the retirement of five of its Boeing 747-400s. Of the remaining 27 747s, 19 are the newer 747-8. Pending confirmation from the airline, it seems that the eight 747-400s may not return to service too.

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In a further blow to the quadjet fleet, it seems more A340s could be joining the previously announced 10 that were slated for retirement. Lufthansa’s A340 fleet numbers 34 aircraft at present, split evenly between the -300 and the -600. The -300s are the oldest, averaging 21 years in service, so we may not see any of these returning to operations.

The -600s are younger at 14.6 years across the fleet, with some as young as 11 years old. It is likely to be these younger A340s that the airline brings back in order to maintain at least some level of widebody capacity.

Lufthansa, Airbus A340, Graveyard
The A340 fleet may end up being much smaller too. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

New widebodies incoming

Of course, Lufthansa also boasts a number of newer, more efficient widebodies. It has 16 A350-900s in its fleet with more on order and hasn’t made any plans to phase out any of its 15 A330-300s. It will also, eventually, become the launch customer for the new Boeing 777X, and has an order in place for 20 Boeing 787-9s.

We can expect an official announcement confirming these additional retirements in the coming weeks, at which point the future size and shape of Lufthansa’s fleet will be much clearer.

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