Lufthansa’s Boeing 747 Recovery Slows Slightly In August

Lufthansa has slightly slowed its planned Boeing 747 return to service in August. The airline has 567 flights with the ‘Queen of the skies’ scheduled from August, compared to the 616 flights on the schedule for August a month ago.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
The Lufthansa Boeing 747’s return to the skies will slow slightly in August. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The pandemic has seen many airlines across the globe call time on the queen of the skies, over 50 years since the first Boeing 747 entered service. Sadly, the Boeing 747-8 wasn’t a hit with passengers airlines, attracting just three customers. One of these customers, German flag carrier Lufthansa, remains committed to the 747-8 and its older sister, the Boeing 747-400.

Almost 600 flights in August

As we enter the final days of July, it is time to start looking ahead to August. According to the latest schedule information from aviation data experts Cirium, Lufthansa currently has 567 Boeing 747-8 flights in its schedule for August. While the airline has been spotted flying some 747-400s around Germany, these aren’t due to return to service in August.

From June to July, Lufthansa’s Boeing 747 operations increased by roughly 83% from 239 to 438. While the growth will continue, 567 flights represent a monthly increase of just 29%. When Simple Flying looked at the schedule a month ago, 616 flights were scheduled for August, indicating that Lufthansa revised its August jumbo jet schedule down by around 8%. August will see the airline continuing to fly the jet to Palma de Mallorca once a week on a limited basis.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
Lufthansa’s planned Boeing 747-8 routes for August. Photo: Cirium

Return of the Boeing 747-400?

While the German flag carrier isn’t expecting to fly the older generation Boeing 747-400 during August, things are set to change in September. As the schedule currently stands, the airline has 247 flights scheduled for its older queens during September.

This will make a post-pandemic record for the airline for two reasons. Firstly, it will be the first time both variants of the 747 have been used since March 2020. However, it will also be the first time the airline has gotten close to pre-pandemic flight levels. In March 2020, 996 flights were scheduled across the two types. In September, 972 flights are currently scheduled.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
The Boeing 747-8’s recovery is going nicely. Data: Cirium

Of course, the breakdown of aircraft will be different. In March 2020, the Boeing 747-400 was responsible for 42% of jumbo jet flights. In September, it will be just responsible for just a quarter of the total flights.

Since the -400 fleet was grounded, the airline has retired some of the variants, meaning that it will likely never be able to reach total pre-pandemic 747 capacity. Thankfully, the remaining -400s aren’t on the way out just yet. Lufthansa is keeping them around until Boeing 777X deliveries begin, meaning the first won’t leave the fleet until 2023.

On the -400’s return, a Lufthansa spokesperson previously told Simple Flying,

“We will also be bringing our eight 747-400s back into service for the next few years. Starting in 2023, they will be successively replaced by the 777s once they are delivered.”

Transitioning to the Boeing 747-8

Since 2012, Lufthansa has slowly transitioned from the Boeing 747-400 to the Boeing 747-8. The total number of scheduled Boeing 747 flights dropped slightly at the start. From 2011, before the -8 entered service, to 2013, the 747 schedules dropped by around 4,000 flights per year from roughly 18,000. Despite this, the number of flights began climbing again, reaching over 17,000 by 2019.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
The number of Boeing 747 flights initially fell following the -8’s introduction. Data: Cirium

While the drop in Boeing 747-400 flights averaged around 2,750 flights a year from 2011 to 2015, the Boeing 747-400s place in the fleet stabilized until the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became painfully apparent in 2020.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
From 2015 to 2019, the -400:-8 ratio remained relatively stable. Data: Cirium

The Lufthansa Boeing 747 fleet

According to the latest data from ch-aviation.com, the Lufthansa jumbo jet fleet currently consists of 27 Boeing 747s, accounting for roughly 10% of the airline’s fleet. The German carrier has eight remaining -400s, but as was previously revealed, none of these are currently active. Between them, these eight aircraft have an average age of 21.3 years, with a total capacity of 2,968 seats. 15 further 747-400s have been retired from the airline’s fleet.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

As the -8 has taken over the reins, it has morphed into the larger of the -400 sub-fleets. According to ch-aviation.com, Lufthansa presently has 19 Boeing 747-8 aircraft. Only five of these are listed as inactive, which is impressive considering the disdain that many airlines have for the larger jets. The -8 fleet has an average age of only 7.8 years, but between them will carry 6,916 passengers at once.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
five of 19 Boeing 747-8s in the fleet are currently inactive. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Comparing old and young

Lufthansa’s oldest remaining Boeing 747 is D-ABVM. The aircraft had been in storage in Hamburg but was repositioned to Frankfurt Airport on July 23rd. According to ch-aviation.com, the aircraft is 23.52 years old. The aging plane took its first flight on January 28th, 1998, and was delivered to Lufthansa on February 7th, just days later.

The aircraft is listed with a current market value of $5.05 million. As of February 28th, it has completed 107,927 flight hours (over 12 years of flying) across 12,847. On average, it has been used for 12.48 hours a day, while its average flight length is eight and a half hours.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Return
Lufthansa’s four youngest 747s are all under seven years old. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

For comparison, the airline’s youngest 747-8 is D-ABYU. The aircraft was ordered by Lufthansa in December 2006 but didn’t take its first flight until March 5th. As such, the aircraft is 6.41 years old. Collateral Verifications LLC estimates that the aircraft is worth over ten times as much, giving a current market value of $54.74 million.

As of February 28th, the plane had flown for 25,334 hours (roughly 2.9 years) across 2,545 flight cycles. Its average daily usage is 11 and a half hours a day, while its average flight length is ten hours.

Have you flown on Lufthansa’s Boeing 747? Which variant did you fly on, and how was it? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

20 Shares: