Official: Lufthansa Retiring Entire A380 & A340-600 Fleet… Probably

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Lufthansa has today announced a third restructuring plan during the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s not good news for the future of the A380 and A340-600.

Lufthansa’s outlook is worsening

Lufthansa has revealed that the outlook for international air traffic has significantly worsened in recent weeks. With the summer travel season coming to an end, passenger and booking numbers are declining again, after slight signs of a recovery in July and August.

Lufthansa Group previously assumed that passenger numbers would reach 50% of pre-coronavirus levels by the fourth quarter of 2020, but that no longer seems realistic. Rather if current trends continue, the airline expects available seat kilometers for the fourth quarter to only be somewhere around 20-30% of last year’s levels.

Lufthansa has been pessimistic about a recovery since shortly after the pandemic started. However, with today’s announcement, the airline is taking an even grimmer view of a recovery.

Lufthansa puts A380s & A340-600s in long-term storage

In late April it was announced that Lufthansa Group would reduce its fleet size by 100 aircraft, and that number is now being increased to 150 aircraft.

With this latest development:

  • Lufthansa’s eight remaining Airbus A380s will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning; the airline used to have 14 A380s, but it had already been announced that six A380s would be retired
  • Lufthansa’s 10 remaining Airbus A340-600s will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning; the airline used to have 17 A340-600s, but it had already been announced that seven A340-600s would be retired

Lufthansa’s A380s are going into long-term storage

Prior to this announcement the intent was for these aircraft to return to service within a couple of years. Now these planes will only be reactivated “in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery.”

This fleet decision will result in a further impairment of up to 1.1 billion EUR, which will be accounted for in the third quarter of this year.

This spring Air France became the first airline in the world to retire its entire A380 fleet, and it sounds like Lufthansa will be the second airline to do that. However, with Lufthansa it’s not quite a sure thing. It sounds like if there’s an unexpected recovery in the next few months then the plane could be reactivated, but otherwise it’s not happening.

My gosh, that’s sad…

Lufthansa’s A340-600 will likely never return to service

More layoffs at Lufthansa Group

Lufthansa had previously announced that there were 22,000 surplus full-time positions, and now that number will increase even further. The company notes that this number will continue to be adjusted going forward, given the uncertainty about the future.

Further conversations will take place with unions regarding layoffs. Lufthansa Group hopes to minimize redundancies by coming to crisis package agreements with unions.

That’s simply awful…

Cash burn decreasing at Lufthansa Group

Despite the worsened outlook, Lufthansa Group hopes to further reduce cash burn through strict cost management.

The company is currently burning around 500 million EUR per month, and by the winter of this year hopes to reduce that to 400 million EUR per month. The company still hopes to return to positive operating cashflow by 2021, but there’s no real way to accurately predict that at this point.

Bottom line

It’s another sad day for aviation, as Lufthansa intends to retire its entire Airbus A380 and A340-600 fleet. These planes will be put into long-term storage, and will only be reactivated if there’s a short-term unexpected increase in demand.

The A380 was supposed to be the jet of the future, while the A340-600 is one of the sleekest-looking planes out there, in my opinion.

These fleet changes are particularly sad for bathroom usage — the Lufthansa A380 was the only commercial plane to have urinals (only in first class), while the Lufthansa A340-600 was the only commercial plane to have lavatories in a modified cargo container on the lower deck. Going to the bathroom on Lufthansa will never quite be the same.

Bye bye, urinal!

If there’s any silver lining here from the perspective of an avgeek, it’s that Lufthansa isn’t planning on retiring its few remaining 747-400s, at least for now. That was otherwise under consideration.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s latest fleet reductions?

  1. I loved flying first class on the A340 out of JFK. Did it twice. I will miss the first class lounge at JFK. Great steak. What will they replace it with? A330?

  2. I’ll miss the beautiful A340-600’s; the most elegant airliner since the Super VC10 in my humble opinion. I’m glad I had the opportunity to fly them with South African and Qatar Airways. (The shorter-body A340’s I flew aboard with Olympic Airways and Air France are – sadly – history as well.)

  3. Lufthansa A340 bathrooms downstairs in the back were quite nice. I wish I had to chance to fly them more before the pandemic.

  4. The 380s may be back if capacity demands. But the 340’s are probably gone for good as there really isnt a market case to fly them anymore.

  5. Both the 380 and 340-600 have galley elevators for carts used to move food and supplies between floors (rear galley on 340-600 is in the basement along with the crew rest bunks and toliets) Flight crews love the downstairs galley because it’s large and has a sense of privacy.

  6. I used to fly the LH A340-600 between Europe and US whenever I had a chance. The 2-4-2 seating, and the downstairs lavatories, where more or less as good as economy gets.

  7. Probably 6-7 years ago now, Lufthansa had insanely low prices from DTW to anywhere in Europe. It was the first time I’d ever flown anything other than SkyTeam across the Atlantic so I just assumed all Lufthansa planes had their bathrooms downstairs, not just the A340 lol. I wish all airlines and all airplanes had this setup!

  8. @Lucky – is it correct that as a result, LH will only offer FC on the remaining 748 destinations, or will they (temporarily) completely shut down First Class and the First Class Lounges? Taking out all the A380s and A346 must reduce FC capacity by 70, 80%?

    And LX is then the only airline worldwide with FC service on all long-haul flights with A333, A343 and B777?

  9. “while the Lufthansa A340-600 was the only commercial plane to have lavatories in a modified cargo container on the lower deck”

    Thomas Cook airlines A330-243, G-MDBD also has 5 downstairs toilets.


  10. @Cameron,

    for many years now there is no more downstairs galley in the A340-600. It’s all the way in the rear of the aircraft now.

  11. Looks….having a safe secure airplane storage airport is key now….big gains to pax aircraft conversion to cargo freighter companies. As pax flights return in slow rate ..demand for B787-8,B737s,A320s,Embraer and De-haviland will rock the day

  12. Looks….having a safe secure airplane storage airport is key now….big gains to pax aircraft conversion to cargo freighter companies.

  13. Good riddance. Lufthansa had been terrible during the pandemic, zero customer service, swapping out the A350 with their crappy old noisy A340’s last minute and being generally useless when it comes to trying to help to get you back home. They didn’t even seem to know their own schedule, as depending on who you talked to, you got completely different answers. Hour long telephone queues to try to get through to a human being, as it was not possible to use their website for anything but to claim a coupon for later use. Lufthansa is on my shit list alongside United after this experience. Oh and their staff in Frankfurt was the rudest, least helpful airline staff I’ve ever spoken to.

  14. @TLS.

    My experience with UA , LH @ SK was ditto. its the attitude of Star Alliance, rude arrogance. I feel sorry for the staff as this sort of behavior only stems when facilitated by the top management, but everyone is hurting so no sympathy.

    nonetheless depressing for aviation we are heading south rapidly.

  15. Oh the 380…what a dud of a business case. It only works with a full plane during a solid economy. Mess with any of those variables and it’s better off as soup cans. I mean, it’s fun to pee in a urinal, but that doesn’t buy the fuel for those big tanks.

    This makes sense for LH; at least the older 744s can be more easily converted to cargo, an area that’s actually booming during the pandemic.

    I’m sure LH is rethinking the whole First Class experience, but just because there are no first class seats doesn’t mean they have to drop the first class-caliber ground services, provided it makes financial sense to continue operating them.

    I could see offering access to the First Class facilities to HON, the 748 first class flights, and heck…even full J. They could also be baked into corporate contracts for a fee, or even offered to other premium airlines that have flights from FRA and MUC. A little innovation, I think, can keep the doors open on these lounges/terminal.

    And as for the 346, we saw that coming a mile away before COVID-19 with the 777 order.

  16. Seriously looking for an all metal 1:200 Airbus A340-600. Not sure if the old or new LH colours would be good.

    Is it only Iberia that will be flying the A340-600 in the future. And of course Mahan Air.

    Super VC10 it is my favourite aircraft too. When they are all gone let’s both sob together. There shall never be another beauty like her. Such a beautiful bird. And sadly I have never flown an A340-600 yet.

  17. Oh the “NEW NORMA” hope you all enjoy it when there will be no air travel 5 years from now because once we blew up the global aviation sector for a very bad flu it will be determined that regular people don’t need to be hopping around the globe anymore!!!

    Just like we look back on smoking during flights kids will look back in 20 years and go ” people used to fly around for no reason, take pics and then blog about it? ” Climate terrorists they will be called!!!

  18. I wonder if anyone has ever fallen down the steps going to the lavatory in a LH A340-600? I once went down during light turbulence and it takes some balance to walk down the steps during bumps.

    I like it because it’s weird and it’s roomy. There’s extra space down there, enough room to exercise.

  19. Does long-term storage always mean storing it in the California or AZ desert? Do planes ever go into storage in the middle east or Sahara desert?

  20. Let’s face it: This marks the end of FCL at LH. Only their 748 will feature FCL for the time being, and the mock-up of their planned new FCL in FRA was met with heavy criticism and disapproval by their HONs. Looks like FCL won’t be updated anytime soon.

  21. The A380 and the A340-600 are nothing but gas guzzlers based on late 90’s technology. Significant that LH is keeping its’ 19 747-800s. Also you all must remember the A340-500 ULR. Made 20 of them. AC had 2 that flew YYZ/HKG. Got rid of them after 1 year because of the fuel burn.

  22. @Lucky – Is there a way to find out what routes the 744s are/will be flying? I’d really love to get one more shot in the nose cone before they’re gone. (The route I had been counting on — MCO-FRA, which had traditionally been flown by a 744 — is now scheduled as a 343.) Thanks!

  23. @Chris – I would not say that it is a Star Alliance attitude issue, rather a company-specific one. My experiences with customer service at Singapore Airlines, EVA Air, ANA or Thai for example were all very pleasant, pragmatic and customer-friendly.

  24. @ Tom — It’s hard to say given how often schedules are changing right now. I don’t believe Lufthansa is flying many 747-400s right now, but hopefully more re-enter service in the coming months.

  25. Well I said it here before I and anyone around me owed money (sometimes quite a lot 5 digit euros) of full fare refundable tickets cancelled before corona (for example 6.03.20) will never put a foot in an LH flight until we get reimbursed. LH is a private cpy which at the moment survives on people taxes. I get the whole spiel it will cost you the same or more if we shut it down. But I don’t believe these socialists arguments. LX reimbursed me 3 first class tickets, they apologized for the delay. I was back on a LX plane immediately afterwards.

  26. Say what you want about Willie Walsh you can’t deny that he ran IAG incredibly well, much better than Lufthansa Group

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