Wow: Lufthansa Group Orders 787-9s & A350-900s

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Lufthansa Group has just placed an order for 40 additional aircraft, including 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, as well as an additional 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

Lufthansa 787-9

Lufthansa Group expects to take delivery of these planes between late 2022 and 2027. The intention is that these planes will primarily be replacing their four engine aircraft (which include A340s, A380s, and 747s).

The list price for these 40 aircraft is 12 billion USD, though as usual, you can expect they got a significant discount, and the actual price paid isn’t being disclosed.

Lufthansa Group says that the decision regarding which airline will deploy the aircraft and at which hub will be made at a later date.

Since they say that the intention is primarily to replace four engine planes, it seems to me like most of these planes are going to Lufthansa and Swiss, since Austrian doesn’t operate any four engine widebodies.

However, Austrian’s fleet is also getting older, and consists of 767s and 777s. Personally I should see them splitting the 787-9 order between Austrian and Swiss, and then sending the A350-900s to Lufthansa, to keep some fleet consistency there.

It’s interesting to note that:

  • Lufthansa has already ordered 25 Airbus A350-900s, which will be delivered through 2023, so these 20 A350 orders are on top of that
  • Lufthansa has already placed an order for 20 Boeing 777-9s, which will be delivered between 2020 and 2025
  • Lufthansa will be selling six of their 14 Airbus A380s back to Airbus in 2022 and 2023, using these newly ordered planes to replace them; Lufthansa hasn’t disclosed the price at which they’re selling the planes to Airbus

Lufthansa A350-900

The CEO of the Lufthansa Group had the following to say regarding this order:

“By replacing four-engine planes with new models, we are laying a sustainable foundation for our future in the long run. In addition to the cost-effectiveness of the A350 and B787, the significantly lower CO2 emissions of this new generation of long-haul aircraft was also a decisive factor in our investment decision. Our responsibility for the environment is becoming more and more important as a criterion for our decisions.”

Bottom line

It’s great to see Lufthansa Group invest in a fuel efficient fleet going forward. It’s especially interesting to see the airline split their order between the 787 and A350.

I will be sad to see Lufthansa retire more of their four engine planes, given that I can’t imagine they’ll offer first class on their 787s and A350s.

On the plus side, at least all of these planes should feature Lufthansa’s new business class.

I also find it quite interesting that they’ve sold six A380s back to Airbus. I’m not sure Airbus will really be able to do much with them, given the lack of a secondhand market. Rather I imagine this was just a condition of the A350 order, and they could make it work in a mutually beneficial way.

What do you make of Lufthansa Group’s widebody aircraft order?

  1. Dissapointing that they’re going for the 787, from a passenger point of view. The 3-3-3 of the A350 is much more comfortable than the one on the 787. I also expected LH to go for the A330neo considering it would be the logical replacement for the A343, and the A35K to replace the 744 and 388.

  2. I wonder what they are planning with their 747-8 fleet and how long we will be able to fly with the queen. I guess the 747-400 and especially the a340s will be replaced at first.

    Glad to be on their 747-400 three weeks from now.

  3. Politically I do understand that airliners should keep happy both the world’s largest manufacturers and from what I can see major airlines. So I am not surprised at all of Lufthansa trying to get rid of their 4 engines aircraft which have high operational costs and turning into the two dual engine mid-sized long haul aircraft which definitely gives better flexibility.

  4. I think Austrian will also get some of the 787s as it was shown in one of the renderings during the press announcement.

  5. Disappointing choice from a passenger perspective. Both aircraft are a downgrade of overall passenger comfort. I would rather have seen 777 (without 3x4x3) and A330 as new orders.

  6. Glad to see the upgrade from point of view of customer comfort, cost and technology. Somewhat happier to see investment into the 787 rather than into the A350, due to personal preferences.

  7. Hi Ben, as far as I know, LH Group does not intend to use there 787s for LH. They announced that they do not intend to operate the 787s at the same Hub as their A350s, as the A359s are stationed at MUC and soon FRA it looks as if the 787s are likeley to go to Austrian,Swiss and maybe EW or Brussels but it seems highly unlikely that we will ever see one in LH livery.

  8. It’s funny you mention new business class. With some of these planes not coming online until 2027, this “new’ business class will already be pretty dated in my opinion.

  9. I agree with Max – the 787 and the A350 are essentially competitors, so it is odd to operate both of them.

  10. @Tom

    Not really, cost saving from having just one plane type only go so far. LH group is big enough that they probably reach that level with a good margin.

    Also there is the downside of having just one plane/engine type in case of fleet problems, think the B787 and RR engines here. Or the B737MAX. At least all of your planes will not be grounded at the same time with a mixed fleet.

  11. WOW – An airline has bought some planes!?!? I genuinely wish I could find as much excitement in the mundane as you seem to be able to!

  12. That is the end of Lufthansa First Class. I am absolutely certain that none of these planes will feature a first-class cabin since their new business class seats will be installed. So the only plane remaining in the entire fleet featuring first class would be their 747–8. Once this will feature the new business class seats, Lufthansa first class will be gone for good. I think they will re-brand their first class lounges and the first class terminal into HON circle lounges then.

  13. @Frederik

    First of all it depends which planes are leased or owned. If leased and you are able to get rid of the plane earlier, then it might make sense to let them go when you have the chance.

    The joker here would be if 747-8s could be converted to freighters, LH cargo has 12 MD-11s in their fleet now, LH has 19 747-8s in passenger config. Plus a 747-8 in a cargo version would have resell value, unlike the A380.

    My guess assuming the reminder of the A380 fleet is owned would be that the 747-8s will go first because they will hold value in the second hand market, unlike the A380.

    The 747-8s might even be useful in passenger version for a leisure charter operator or for haji flights.

  14. My guess on how these planes will be used:

    777X: gradually replace 747-400, A380 and 747-8 at LH, later 777-300er at Swiss
    A350-900: replace 747-400, A340-600, A340-300 at LH and later 777-200 at Austrian
    787: replace 767 at Austrian, A340-300 at Swiss, later A330 at Swiss?
    787 could also see use at Eurowings

  15. @Claus: I don’t agree with you. The 787-9 will replace the 767 and 777 at Austrian, as it does not make sense to operate two small longhaul fleets. It will give you much more flexibility and cost savings to operate 10 planes of the same type then 5+5. It was also said by OS CEO that they only want one plane with capacity between 250-300 passengers.


    777X: Replace LH 744, 748, A380
    A359: Replace LH A343, A346, A330
    787: Replace OS 763, 772 // LX A343, A330

    This would put OS and LX as pure Boeing long haul operators and LH a mix. I also think the 787 makes more sense at LX as there should be more commonality between 773 and 787. However, also

  16. Wow! It sure does appear that except for Emirates, airlines including: Air France, Qatar, and now Lufthansa, can’t get rid of their Airbus A380s fast enough!

    As a lifelong avgeek, this is so sad to see 🙁

    And sorry, I think this is a terrible loss for the 85% of us who nearly always fly in Economy class as those nine abreast 3-3-3 Boeing 787s with their apallingly narrow 17” wide seats are wholly unacceptable for any flight longer than three hours, and especially so for the more typical 8-18 hours missions they’re flown.

    Same applies to the equally hideous, atrocious, and shameful ten abreast Boeing 777s – with BOTH of these “densified” Boeing beasts on our NO FLY list if we cannot afford the step up to premium economy since my partner, who has significantly reduced mobility in his left leg due to Polio he had as a young child especially cannot endure the additional discomfort and risk to his health and well being that these overcrowded cabins with their too narrow seats, and for him even more treacherous, too narrow aisles that become limb clogged obstacle courses during long-haul flights pose to his safety simply to use the loo.

    So, it really is sad to see any Boeing wide-body 777 or 787 replace the far more passenger friendly Airbus wide-bodies which we go out of our way to fly in preference to ANY densified Boeing beasts whenever possible.

  17. Lufthansa has also said in the past it will not keep the 747-8 more than 10 or 12 years.

    Airlines are not anymore in love with 4 engines aircraft.

  18. Based on my assessment, the A330neo is more of a competitor to the 787 while the A350 is a competitor to the 777x.

  19. I believe that A350 would fit more perfectly Swiss demands rather than the 787. Especially in routes like New York, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, Montreal, Johannesburg and Tokyo.

    But hey! Daddy Lufthansa knows best!

  20. @Howard Miller, I can only agree with your comment. I try to fly the A350 whenever possible, as sadly I don’t get to fly in business very often.
    One of the worst flights in my life was being stuck in the middle seat in a United 787 from Denver to Narita. The guy in the window seat was working on his over sized gaming laptop the entire flight and the guy in the isle seat was sleeping the entire flight. Not a nice experience at all.
    Premium economy helps, but it’s far from great with all airlines, although it feels almost rude saying so considering how cramped some planes are these days.
    Luckily the Asian carriers that I mostly fly with, haven’t densified all their 777’s yet, but I guess it’s only a matter of time until that’s done and dusted. More of them are also getting 787’s, which I’d rather not set foot in.

  21. 787-9 and 787-10 in an indirect way compete with the A350-900. Still, an airline as large as LH should probably have room for both. I would think the A359 is overkill on some A343 routes: FRA to TPA/SAN/MAA/NKG. The A333s are younger, but less capable, so maybe we’ll still see a 787 order for LH.

  22. So long as Brexit doesn’t collapse demand in London and depending on timing of the 3rd runway at LHR; BA may pick up the A380s at knock down prices. I’d also place a small bet on BA being the last carrier operating A380s

  23. @TLS – what a terrible experience (Denver – Narita).

    I can definitely see Eurowings getting some of the 787s. LH seems to be deploying them on longer routes, including taking over MUC-BKK from LH soon. I feel LH wants to position Eurowings as “their” Norwegian Air. 787s will help and we might even see new routes open up from Germany to far-flung leisure destinations.

  24. @no Name and Frederick you are correct.
    @Lucky good point about the 789s going to OS and / or LX.
    I guess the price of selling 20 more 359s was buy back the 7 pigs. Not sure how much money Bus are making on the total deal but they never really cared about that anyway lol.

  25. @Lucky

    It totally makes sense for Lufthansa to order both type of planes to support their subsidiary Lufthansa Technik.

    If you are interested I can share more information in a private conversation.

  26. just arrived today With LH 573 Joburg-Frankfurt in First Class
    (super service/3 hrs delayed.)

    however,by takeing these steps Lh is eliminating its F class Product after 2022 as none of these Aircraftstype will offer it.
    That is a shame…

  27. Well Lufthansa is the the far best airline in Europe to my opinion it should rank in the world and Europe service improvements are far better why because I had a very good time onboard the A380 and the A320 Neo both planes had good service But Lufthansa A380 Flight from New Delhi was running late unfortunately missed my connection or connecting flight from Frankfurt so they had to rebook me to Frankfurt to London and then London to Toronto this was only option they had I was booked on Lufthansa A320 Neo to London and then Air Canada from London to Toronto this was only option they had but they did a good job on rebooking me 787 would great on Lufthansa fleet LH.

  28. Not a fan of the 9-abreast seating in coach that LH will almost certainly go with on the 787, but from a fleet/network perspective the plane makes a ton of sense, and unlike Lucky I think they’ll use it for LH, not just for the smaller subsidiaries. Look at where BA is flying their 787s – tertiary markets in the U.S. like Austin, or long-and-thin routes to Asia like Kuala Lumpur. For some of those markets LH’s current planes are too big (A350), don’t have enough range (A330), or too thirsty (A340). Lufthansa has retrenched rather than grown their network in East Asia and SE Asia, and the 787 could serve markets that haven’t been feasible with the current fleet.

  29. Just flew LH flight 499 MEX-FRA First Class (747-8) Last night. Grabbed a last min award saver (UA) to upgrade from BUSINESS . Crew was friendly enough but the 40k extra miles was a rip off —seat design is horrible. Things weren’t working and the food not that great plus some of the better wine selections “sold out” (?? Per flight attendant) . Do your self a favor and save your miles and just book business North America to Europe- . Another interesting note first class lounge access in MEXICO CITY on LH Flight 499 was the AMERICAN AIRLINES CLUB and we were all picked up and dropped off at the plane by an American Airlines’ ConciergeKey shuttle!!!

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