SWISS To Defer Short Haul Aircraft Orders

Lufthansa has today revealed details of its restructuring package designed to help it weather the storm of the coronavirus crisis. The Group has made some decisions which will affect all airlines in its family. One affected airline is SWISS.

Swiss Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft
SWISS will defer deliveries and retire aircraft early. Photo: SWISS

In the press release sent to Simple Flying, the Group said,

“SWISS International Air Lines will also adjust its fleet size by delaying deliveries of new short haul aircraft and consider early phase-outs of older aircraft.”

It appears SWISS is planning to defer deliveries of some new aircraft, which will come as a blow to planemaker Airbus, who has a number of outstanding orders with the Zurich based carrier.

However, the good news in the release is that the Lufthansa Group is doing its best to minimize the impact of the current crisis on its employees across the group. The announcement concluded with the information that,

“The aim remains the same for all employees affected by the restructuring measures: to offer as many people as possible continued employment within the Lufthansa Group. Therefore, talks with unions and workers councils are to be arranged quickly to discuss, among other things, new employment models in order to keep as many jobs as possible.”

Deferring deliveries

SWISS has a total of 25 aircraft on order, all from European manufacturer Airbus. These include 16 A320neos, eight A321neos and one A220-300.

The latest addition to the neo family of jets for SWISS was made as part of an order placed in September 2018. An order for 27 of the A320neo family was made by Lufthansa, with 10 earmarked to go to SWISS. This was made up of seven A320neos and three A321neos.

Airbus A320neo, SWISS, First Neo
SWISS already received just one neo from its order. Photo: Airbus

The rest of the neos were not firm orders, rather were left on Airbus’ books as options. These were due to start delivering in February this year; indeed, SWISS had already received the first of its A320neo order, but hadn’t received any of the A3201neos. There was some talk about SWISS upguaging the A321s to A321LRs or even XLRs in the future.

Now, it seems Lufthansa will be looking to Airbus to allow it to delay or defer the rest of these deliveries, along with its last outstanding A220-300. It’s unknown how long the airline will be looking to push these orders back, but seems to make sense given the currently difficult and very uncertain climate.

Retiring older aircraft

Lufthansa’s press release indicated that SWISS would look to early retirement of some of its older aircraft. While the statement didn’t elaborate on which aircraft were likely to be retired, looking at the fleet lineup it would be likely to be its oldest narrowbodies that are on the way out.

SWISS has 19 A320-200s in its current fleet with an average age of almost 20 years. Five are under 10 years of age, so have plenty of useful life left in them, but the rest of the fleet is all over 22 years old. Any or all of these could be on their way out.

Some of the SWISS A320s are getting old. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia

Its A321-100s are also relatively aged aircraft, clocking up between 20 and 25 years of service each. At least half of these are leased, so if the timing is right to return them to lessors, it would save SWISS the ongoing lease payments as well as whatever it’s costing to store them to get rid of them early.

You might think the A340s could soon be retired, being as how the type has fallen out of favor with airlines all over the world. However, SWISS has previously said that its A340s would be getting a new premium economy cabin in 2021, so it appears it’s keen to hold onto these a little bit longer.

What do you make about Lufthansa’s plan to cut costs at SWISS? Let us know in the comments.