The Shift To Small Planes: Inside Lufthansa’s 2021 US Route Plans

How things change. In 2019, over seven in ten Lufthansa flights to North America were by four-engine aircraft. Now, they have fewer than four in ten – with the drive towards smaller twins continuing. The A350-900 has become the carrier’s top type, replacing the B747-8.

The A350-900 is now Lufthansa’s #1 aircraft to North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The fifth-largest airline

Lufthansa is one of 44 airlines planning to operate scheduled services between North America and Europe this year. With 14,101 round-trip flights, Lufthansa is the fifth-largest operator in this market. This equates to a 7.3% share of all flights, according to data supplied by each carrier to OAG.

The German giant’s North America operation puts it behind Delta – the leading airline – and United, British Airways, and American. However, it has more flights planned than Air France, Air Canada, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Turkish Airlines.

Lufthansa’s four-engine aircraft had 71% of North America flights in 2019. Now it is 36%. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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So long, A380

Lufthansa was the world’s third-largest user of the A380 in the past decade. The airline had 14 A380s in all, but they have been parked indefinitely. Still, the A380 played an important role from Frankfurt and Munich to the US and Canada. In 2019, eight routes saw the A380. In order of the number of flights, they were:

  1. Frankfurt-Houston
  2. Frankfurt-New York JFK
  3. Munich-Los Angeles
  4. Frankfurt-Miami
  5. Frankfurt-San Francisco
  6. Frankfurt-Los Angeles
  7. Munich-Miami
  8. Munich-San Francisco

Lufthansa used seven aircraft between Germany and North America in 2019. With just shy of 3,100 flights, the A380 was the sixth-most-used, ahead of the A340-300 and just behind the A330-300. Now, things are different.

The A380 was used on eight Lufthansa routes to the US and Canada. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The A350-900 is #1

While seven types operated to North America pre-pandemic, Lufthansa will now fly just five, with the A350-900 number-one, as shown below.

  1. A350-900: approximately 4,751 round-trip flights
  2. A330-300: 4,241
  3. B747-8: 2,430
  4. A340-300: 1,447
  5. B747-400: 1,232

The share of flights by the A350-900 has doubled from 17% in 2019, on the back of additional services by the type along with big cuts by other aircraft, especially the B747-8 and B747-400. Despite this, Simple Flying showed that Lufthansa remains the only passenger 747 operator between Europe and North America.

Across the airline’s whole network, capacity by twin-engine aircraft has overtaken those with four engines. This is also seen to North America. In 2019, over seven in ten flights (71%) were by quads. Now, they’re down to fewer than four in ten services (36%). It is an inevitable but sad end of an era.

The A330-300 is Lufthansa’s most-used widebody across its whole network and #2 to North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Lufthansa has 36 routes to North America

This year, Lufthansa has 36 routes from Germany to the US and Canada. 23 are from Frankfurt, with the remainder from Munich. Frankfurt to Chicago O’Hare, a Star Alliance-orientated route, is the hub airline’s number-one by flights this year, overtaking Frankfurt-JFK. Its leading 10 routes are all from Frankfurt, as follows.

  1. Frankfurt-Chicago
  2. Frankfurt-New York JFK
  3. Frankfurt-Los Angeles
  4. Frankfurt-Houston
  5. Frankfurt-Washington
  6. Frankfurt-Toronto
  7. Frankfurt-Miami
  8. Frankfurt-Boston
  9. Frankfurt-Newark
  10. Frankfurt-San Francisco

With just three-weekly services between August and October, Munich is the least-served, although up to seven weekly services by fellow Star member, Air Canada, offsets this.

Will you be flying Lufthansa this year? Let us know in the comments.