Lufthansa Picks Up Former Philippine Airlines A350s

Lufthansa Picks Up Former Philippine Airlines A350s

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Lufthansa is continuing to modernize its fleet by opportunistically picking up planes when there’s a good deal. This has some interesting implications for the passenger experience as well.

Lufthansa picking up four more Airbus A350-900s

Lufthansa is accelerating the modernization of its long haul fleet by leasing four additional Airbus A350-900 aircraft. These planes are expected to join Lufthansa’s fleet in the first half of 2022. The airline currently has 17 A350s, so with these four additional planes, Lufthansa’s A350 fleet will be up to 21 aircraft as of early next year.

Lufthansa has ordered four more A350-900s

Here’s how Dr. Detlef Kayser, a member of the Lufthansa Board, describes this lease decision:

“The Airbus A350 is one of the most modern aircraft of our time. Extremely fuel-efficient, very quiet and much more economical than its predecessors. Our customers appreciate not only the sustainability but also the premium flight experience with this aircraft. The lease agreements allow us to remain flexible in fleet planning and make the most of exceptional market opportunities.”

Lufthansa Group has gone on quite the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 shopping spree lately:

  • In March 2019, Lufthansa Group placed an order for 20 Airbus A350-900s and 20 Boeing 787-9s; these planes are to be delivered between 2022 and 2027, and complemented the 25 Airbus A350-900s that the airline had already ordered
  • In May 2021, Lufthansa Group placed an order for an additional five Airbus A350-900s and an additional five Boeing 787-9s; the additional five A350s are to be delivered in 2027 and 2028, while the additional five 787s are to be delivered in the first half of 2022

It seems clear that the initial order was part of pre-pandemic long-term fleet planning, while the order from earlier this year (as well as the order announced this week) are simply the airline taking advantage of market opportunities as a result of the pandemic.

Lufthansa Group has also ordered 25 Boeing 787-9s

Where are these A350s coming from?

It’s being reported by aero.de that these four Airbus A350-900 leases are coming from Philippine Airlines. The Manila-based airline is currently in bankruptcy, and as part of that the company is significantly scaling back its fleet, including getting rid of most A350s.

All of that makes sense, and explains why Lufthansa is able to get these planes on short notice, since Philippine Airlines is looking to dump these planes ASAP.

Lufthansa’s new A350s are coming from Philippine Airlines

What business class product should we expect?

Lufthansa won’t be making major changes to the cabins on these planes. Rather we should just expect some minor cosmetic changes, but that’s about it. That means Lufthansa will be flying the former Philippine Airlines A350s in the same configuration they currently offer. For context, these planes feature 295 seats, including:

  • 30 business class seats (1-2-1 configuration)
  • 24 premium economy seats (2-4-2 configuration)
  • 241 economy class seats (3-3-3 configuration)

As a point of comparison, Lufthansa’s current A350-900s feature 293 seats, including:

  • 48 business class seats (2-2-2 configuration)
  • 21 premium economy seats (2-3-2 configuration)
  • 224 economy class seats (3-3-3 configuration)

So while the overall seat counts are similar, the distribution of cabins is quite different. For those in business class, these Philippine Airlines planes represent a huge passenger experience upgrade. Lufthansa’s current A350 business class leaves a bit to be desired…

Lufthansa A350 business class

Meanwhile Philippine Airlines’ A350 business class features Vantage XL seats, with each seat having direct aisle access.

Philippine Airlines A350 business class

The irony is that this will be Lufthansa’s third new business class product, beyond the current generation of business class seats. There’s Lufthansa’s long-term new business class product, which was first revealed in 2017. That was supposed to debut on the Boeing 777-9, but that plane is now delayed until late 2023 at the earliest.

Lufthansa’s eventual new business class product

Then the latest five Boeing 787-9s that Lufthansa ordered were also intended for another airline, and Lufthansa intends to keep the business class product that was installed on those planes. While there hasn’t been official confirmation, my guess is that at least some of those planes were intended for Vistara, in which case we can expect yet another new staggered business class product. These planes will also join Lufthansa’s fleet in the first half of 2022.

Vistara 787-9 business class

So yeah, ultimately all of these new business class products represent an improvement over the old one, though the inconsistency sure is noteworthy.

Bottom line

Lufthansa is picking up a further four Airbus A350s, which will join the carrier’s fleet in the first half of 2022. All of these are A350s that were being operated by Philippine Airlines, which is currently in bankruptcy.

Lufthansa doesn’t intend to modify the cabins of these planes significantly, meaning that Lufthansa will soon be operating some A350s with Vantage XL staggered business class seats.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s newest A350 acquisition, and in particular the new cabins?

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  1. shoeguy

    It really is a head scratcher as to why LH thinks it can pass itself off as a "premium" airline. Is it generally better than most other airlines? Probably. Is it "premium"? Not even close.

  2. Adam Simmons

    If I'm looking to buy a business class seat, I'd expect the product to be consistent across the fleet. Similarly, if I buy a apir of, say, 32" jeans from two branches of the same store, I'd be shocked if they weren't the same size!

    1. Alexf1

      Yes but jeans and $150million dollar aircraft are different and take different decision making processes to produce.

      In any case this is an upgrade for LH's passengers. I wouldn't be shocked, I'd be pleasantly surprised!

  3. Carles Guillot

    So by leasing second-hand aircraft, LH is finally getting an industry-standard business class product... that is truly pathetic. Now we can only hope they "lease" the catering and wine from AF and they might actually have a decent product.

  4. Kent

    I am not convinced that the LH 787-9s will be the ones intended for Vistara. Vistara has ambitious plans for expansion on long-haul routes and the 789s are key. Having said that it is noteworthy that LH Technik have won the service contracts for Vistara's 789s.

  5. AYL

    who knew PAL's leftovers would UPGRADE LH's current business class hard product (until the 777-9 ever arrives; production at Boeing has already started).

    bewildered (actually i know it's $$$) how LH is a 5-star SKYTRAX airline with its lowly business class product

  6. eponymous coward

    @ DavidO:

    Basically very much like United or BA, where until the new J product is fleetwide you can draw the short straw and get very “meh” products.

  7. Ella

    Sweet! Now, if we could only get them to lease someone else’s wine list, life in J would be lovely. Hint - stick with the champagne during the meal.

  8. Max

    I would not expect Lufthansa to keep the business class seats of the previous owners. LH is likely to install their own product and fully rebrand these birds (as well as any 789s) as it has done so often in the past.

  9. DavidO

    Funny how they’ll be going from an extremely consistent but mediocre at best J, to reasonably competitive but wildly inconsistent. Never really needed ExpertFlyer for Lufthansa flights but I have a feeling it’s gonna come in handy now! If they can throw one of the ex PAL A350’s on MUC-SFO consistently that’d be great :)

  10. Gregg

    And yet with the continued confusion over increasing variety of business class seats in the fleet, they still manage to be a Five-Star carrier.

    Amazing….

  11. Lukas

    Flew this bird once with my son. ~$900 TPE-MNL-EWR in J getting me 11,000 ANA miles. Good times...

  12. Andor

    The Thompson XL is fantastic, huge wide seats and massive footwells. Good move Lufthansa, now time to install this on the rest of your fleet like SAS have. I love flying that seat

  13. Andor

    These are great seats that Lufthansa are picking up via PAL. Lufthansa should have installed the Thompson XL seat many years ago which has to be the widest seat and best footwells on the Market. I loved flying on the SAS A330’s and A350’s

  14. Howard Miller

    Other noteworthy cabin improvements, if retained by Lufthansa for the Philippine Airlines’ Airbus A350-900s, that is, include:

    33” main cabin/economy class row pitch vs 31” for Lufthansa’s 359 fleet

    18” main cabin/economy class seat width vs 17” for Lufthansa’s fleet

    12 lavatories aboard Philippine Airlines’ 359s vs seven (7) loos aboard Lufthansa’s “Version 1” configured 359s & eight (8) loos aboard LH’s “Version 2” 359s.

    Again, that’s if the four (4) soon-to-be ex-Philippine Airlines’ A350-900s...

    Other noteworthy cabin improvements, if retained by Lufthansa for the Philippine Airlines’ Airbus A350-900s, that is, include:

    33” main cabin/economy class row pitch vs 31” for Lufthansa’s 359 fleet

    18” main cabin/economy class seat width vs 17” for Lufthansa’s fleet

    12 lavatories aboard Philippine Airlines’ 359s vs seven (7) loos aboard Lufthansa’s “Version 1” configured 359s & eight (8) loos aboard LH’s “Version 2” 359s.

    Again, that’s if the four (4) soon-to-be ex-Philippine Airlines’ A350-900s Lufthansa is leasing remain in their present configurations.

    Should Lufthansa decide to reduce the number of loos from PAL’s 12 to its seven (7) or eight (8) depending on which 359 “Version” it sees as “optimal” (cough, cough…er…the fewest lavs it thinks it can get away with), it’s possible PAL’s far comfier 33” main cabin/economy class row pitch could be reduced to match Lufthansa’s very stingy & totally ridiculous for long-haul travel 31” row pitch aboard its widely panned, almost hated and loathed as much as Boeing’s much hated and loathed 10-abreast Boeing 777s and its nearly equally detestable and reviled 9-abreast 787 ‘Nightmareliners’.

    We shall see! ;)

  15. CSP

    Sad. I enjoyed my PAL experience on the A350 (though not the transit in Manila). The crew were so proud of it as well. Very comfortable plane.

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shoeguy

It really is a head scratcher as to why LH thinks it can pass itself off as a "premium" airline. Is it generally better than most other airlines? Probably. Is it "premium"? Not even close.

Alexf1

Yes but jeans and $150million dollar aircraft are different and take different decision making processes to produce. In any case this is an upgrade for LH's passengers. I wouldn't be shocked, I'd be pleasantly surprised!

Adam Simmons

If I'm looking to buy a business class seat, I'd expect the product to be consistent across the fleet. Similarly, if I buy a apir of, say, 32" jeans from two branches of the same store, I'd be shocked if they weren't the same size!

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