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.
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.
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.
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…
Meanwhile Philippine Airlines’ A350 business class features Vantage XL seats, with each seat having direct aisle access.
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.
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.
So yeah, ultimately all of these new business class products represent an improvement over the old one, though the inconsistency sure is noteworthy.
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?