Lufthansa Grounding Entire A380 Fleet

Filed Under: Lufthansa

We’re seeing airlines globally reducing capacity due to the decrease in demand, though Lufthansa is taking it to a whole new level as far as non-Asian airlines go, as the airline now has plans to ground their entire fleet of Airbus A380s (which is probably well timed, given the new US travel ban for Europe).

Lufthansa reducing capacity by up to 50%

On Friday, Lufthansa Group announced truly radical plans to reduce capacity. The company notes that the coronavirus situation has caused a drastic decline in bookings, causing Lufthansa to reduce flight capacity even more than previously planned.

Lufthansa Group stated that based on further development of demand, the airlines could reduce capacity by up to 50% in the coming weeks. This applies across all Lufthansa Group airlines, including Austrian, Brussels, Lufthansa, and SWISS.

Even SWISS could reduce demand by up to 50%

The company also noted that they were considering grounding Lufthansa’s A380 fleet temporarily.

As the company described it, this was intended to reduce the financial consequences of the slump in demand, and complements planned savings actions in the area of personnel, material costs, project budgets, and other liquidity measures.

The company also implemented a hiring freeze, and is offering employees unpaid leave, and bringing forward annual leave.

Lufthansa grounding all 14 A380s

It seems like it didn’t take long for Lufthansa to decide to ground their fleet of A380s. Aero Telegraph is reporting that Lufthansa has made the decision to ground their fleet of Airbus A380s through at least May, per an internal document. The planes will remain parked in Frankfurt and Munich.

In the coming days Lufthansa will make arrangements with employees regarding this grounding — while flight attendants can operate other planes, A380 pilots are only rated on that plane, so presumably pilots are getting a couple of months off.

Lufthansa hasn’t yet removed A380s from their schedule, so I imagine those decisions will be made in the coming days. I would imagine most A380 routes will be replaced by other (smaller) aircraft, and then frequencies will be reduced and/or other routes will be cut.

Lufthansa is grounding their fleet of A380s

Bottom line

Lufthansa is taking the most drastic action among non-Asian carriers following reduced demand, which is pretty telling of how bad the situation is. The airline is reducing capacity by up to 50%, including grounding all 14 of their Airbus A380s.

  1. Emirates isn’t grounding anything. Qatar Airways is supporting terrorism. Guess what airline is better?

  2. It has been rumoured Qantas will downgrade several a380s also, load factors, particularly QF 1/2 (SIN/LHR) have been quite weak. I wonder if they have any spare 787s swap in during this downturn?

  3. I wonder how LH will backfill those routes and frequencies. Right now they operate the A346 daily SFO-FRA and the A388 to MUC. I don’t think they have enough spare A359s and A346s to cover SFO-MUC without dropping frequencies but close to half. That will affect the whole route network.

  4. “Qatar Airways is supporting terrorism.”
    I guess if you have a keyboard and an internet connection, it makes everything true.

  5. Guys, just ignore this triple idiot @john who was hired by the Big 3.
    I’ll keep flying Qatar with the thought that is pisses off this idiot @john

  6. Shouldn’t this exactly be the situation where the A380 and a LH group hub – spoke – Network should play out?
    Cancel all the other A340/A330/B747/B777 to same A380 destination and have the pax all routed through the A380 hub.

  7. @John
    Oh, unquestionably Qatar is a better airline than Emirates. They’re not even playing in the same league. I always prefer transiting through Doha to Dubai.

  8. Im on United Polaris SFO-FRA then Lufthansa FRA-CDG in 2 weeks. The UA 777-300er is nearly empty in Econ, but almost full in Biz. The Lufthansa A321 FRA-CDG has maybe 30 booked as of today. And other than myself and travel companions no one in their “business class”

  9. Saw an interesting YouTube video on Emirates sanitizing their planes after every flight. Helps with deciding who to fly to Beijing in a couple weeks time.

  10. Jordan,

    So frequency of plane sanitization is a critical factor for you because of the virus, but you are happy to go to China?


  11. @The Nice Paul – Qatar Airways is a massively loss-making money pit which in many ways is extremely dysfunctional and acts as an extension of the ego of the CEO; Emirates is run largely like a developed world carrier these days and actually makes a profit as a result. Sure, Qatar Airways is arguably nicer in business class, but not in first or economy. ‘Better airline’ is very much in the eye of the beholder.

  12. Under the photo of the Swiss 77W, you write “Even Swiss Could Reduce Demand By Up To 50%”. Not correct. And sloppy. Swiss would ultimately cut capacity by 50%, not demand.

  13. Tom, returning to China isn’t really up to me, I’m working on a fixed contract that dictates pretty clearly where and when I work. I’m less scared to be in my apartment or workplace in Beijing than being on an improperly sanitized plane. There have been almost no new coronavirus infections in Beijing the past couple weeks, yet 74 were caused by airplane transmissions on flights to Beijing (mostly on Aeroflot) the same timeframe. So yes, I do care about how well planes are sanitized.

  14. We have a flight on Lufthansa on March 29, LAX to Frankfurt. So what happens? We get a refund? They rebook is for another time?

  15. Some of the reactions to Coronavirus have been extremely quick and drastic (Lufthansa) whereas others have either done nothing or are moving very slowly. The best example of this is Heathrow airport who have a “use it or lose it” policy for their slots. As a consequence many airlines are being forced to fly empty planes around in order to keep their extremely valuable slots. It’s ridiculous. Still BA and Virgin will end up better off than some other airlines.

    Cough Norwegian Cough

  16. Jr, not sure which of the two Toms here you are talking to but, last I checked, the point of a comments section, and indeed the only points of one, is to elicit and offer opinions.

  17. @Maxwill: have you already gotten a notification that the flight would be cancelled? In that case, they should offer alternatives via partner airlines/other airports if you need to travel, or re-book you on an alternative date. Lufthansa did say flights would get cancelled but as far as I can remember, all destinations (apart from the discontinuations already announced, i.e. mainland China, Israel…) would continue to be served with reduced frequencies and/or smaller planes. They are grounding up to 150 planes (short- and long-haul) and my guess is, some of those would be utilized to replace the A388 and maybe B747 on other flights (MUC-LAX is currently served mostly by the A346 and that could remain.

  18. The first time I was scheduled to fly on an LH A380, workers went on a one-day strike (in 2014). I decided to give it a second try this May, now I might never get to fly on this aircraft.

  19. @Jordan~ the show of ‘disinfecting’ aircraft particularly for a photo-op can be ignored. How is wiping surface after surface with the same damp cloth sanitising anything? Spreading germs more efficiently is closer to the truth. Reminds me of Laverne at your nearest diner wiping down tables with the damp cloth she started her shift with!
    A Qantas spokesman last week made the breathtaking claim that they disinfect each plane between flights. Given the ridicule this claim received, I guess he regretted going that bit too far!
    With a 2 hour, or less, turn-around this is impossible. Same with every other airline, but they have the sense to keep quiet.

  20. CoolHandLuke

    Correct, my last recollection of an Emirates “sanitization” at Dubai is spraying the cabin with nasty chemicals while we were still on the plane.

    Choose your poison!

  21. @Tom, that may have been bug spray, although I haven’t encountered that anywhere for a long time. Would be a human rights issue these days!

  22. I am flying Lufthansa on March 29 IAH – FRA on a A380 with paid preferred seating. If they are grounded and a replacement plane ✈️ is scheduled what happens to my reserved preferred seat ??
    Can I cancel and get a refund??

  23. The German economy has been in or near a recession for a while now as is much of Europe so Lufthansa was already suffering. This Coronavirus gives them the opportunity to cut as deep as they want with an excuse. More tenuous airlines will just be pushed over the edge like flybe was. The airlines making the deepest cuts have already had underlying issues.

  24. @The Nice Paul says: I always prefer transiting through Doha to Dubai.

    Remind me who flys from Doha to Dubai.

  25. They’re also cancelling flights without taking their passengers to their destination…
    I had one of three legs cancelled and now have a ticket to somewhere I don’t want to go…
    If you have a Lufthansa booking, be careful, as you might not get to your destination.

  26. @Jackie and your 2 separate quesions

    Does EC261 apply here for cancelled flights

    Only if your flight is actually cancelled and the other criteria are met

    Can I get a refund if they changed the plane?

    Generally not. The contract is to get you from A to B not to fly on a specific plane

  27. Slightly off topic but this feels the place to ask.

    I am just flying out of Cape Town. The BA lounge has a buffet with uncovered food. I would guess their other lounges also have this. So do many other airlines.

    Question. Do we feel this is a smart thing to continue? Feels like an obvious hub for virus transfers to me..

    I am not eating from that buffet…..for sure….Airlines really do not seem to be responding well to this virus.

  28. @jackie. Sick of people trying to claim compensation. It’s a crisis. People like you don’t care about employees and are selfish

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