Lufthansa is continuing to modernize its fleet by opportunistically picking up planes when there’s a good deal. Back in October we first learned that Lufthansa would be acquiring some used Airbus A350s, which has some interesting implications for the passenger experience. These planes have now been scheduled for next summer, so they could be worth seeking out if you plan on crossing the Atlantic.
Lufthansa picks 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 enter service with Lufthansa as of the summer 2022 schedule, which starts in late March 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 the summer of 2022.
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 these four A350 leases, are simply the airline taking advantage of market opportunities as a result of the pandemic.
Where are these A350s coming from?
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, with a huge reduction in the number of business class seats. 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.
Which routes will these A350s fly?
Lufthansa has had quite the summer 2022 schedule update in the past 24 hours, between bringing back A340-600s with first class, and launching a new route to St. Louis. Lufthansa has also loaded these new A350s into the schedule. Between late March and the end of May 2022, these A350s will fly from Munich (MUC) to:
- Montreal (YUL)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Vancouver (YVR)
At least these routes show the seatmaps for these planes, where business class is in a 1-2-1 configuration. The planes haven’t yet been loaded in the schedule beyond that, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see these routes maintain those cabins throughout summer.
I wouldn’t expect to see these A350s on any uber-premium routes. While these A350s do feature a much improved business class product, there’s also a huge reduction in the number of business class seats, as there are only 30, vs. the 48 on Lufthansa’s A350s. There’s no way Lufthansa wants to give up 18 business class seats per flight in some markets.
Lufthansa is picking up a further four Airbus A350s, which will enter service with Lufthansa as of March 2022. The planes will initially fly to Lufthansa’s Canadian destinations, including Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. 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?
Is there any flights from LA to the the Philippines?
Booked miles n more award ticket DEL-MUC in June 2022 & was pleasantly surprised to find 1-2-1 configuration in business class while doing seat selection. hence they seem to operate Delhi- Munich sector with these new 350.
Same! Flying on June 7 - DEL-MUC!
I flew LH´s business class countless times and yes, there are better ones out there but it´s not like the product would be any bad. I feel dinging them for not having direct aisle access on every seat is stupid. There are a lot of families enjoying this layout and if you dont, you can still have a direct aisle. Heck, I know reasonable people that - if they went with family - booked UA´s...
I flew LH´s business class countless times and yes, there are better ones out there but it´s not like the product would be any bad. I feel dinging them for not having direct aisle access on every seat is stupid. There are a lot of families enjoying this layout and if you dont, you can still have a direct aisle. Heck, I know reasonable people that - if they went with family - booked UA´s old 8 abreast business as it made herding kids easier. For normal people there´s nothing wrong with the layout for the love of god...
I find it interesting how all three of the destinations that the ex-PR A350s will fly to will be in Canada. I wonder what kind of justification they have for this. In my opinion, it doesn't make much sense. If I were Lufthansa management, it would have been almost a no-brainer to put the ex-PR A350s on MUC-LAX, MUC-SFO, and MUC-SIN right away. These are some of the longest routes in LH's network, and therefore,...
I find it interesting how all three of the destinations that the ex-PR A350s will fly to will be in Canada. I wonder what kind of justification they have for this. In my opinion, it doesn't make much sense. If I were Lufthansa management, it would have been almost a no-brainer to put the ex-PR A350s on MUC-LAX, MUC-SFO, and MUC-SIN right away. These are some of the longest routes in LH's network, and therefore, these are probably the routes in which passengers would least want to get LH's inferior 2-2-2 business class product. They are all also Star Alliance hubs and relatively prestigious destinations on their own for both business and leisure. At least, even including MUC-NYC (EWR or JFK) in the group of destinations would be a wiser use of those frames. The thing is that while YVR, YYZ, and YUL are also strong places and they are the primary hubs of Star and TATL JV partner Air Canada, YYZ and YUL especially are relatively short hops across the pond, to the point that I feel like they wouldn't really need the best J product LH can offer. I wouldn't be surprised if they revised their plan on where to fly the ex-PR A350s.
Additionally, I wonder what is the reason they don't just retrofit the 5 secondhand 787s to match the new product Lufthansa will be having on their new delivery 787s. And apparently, that product will be different from their new 777X business class. It seems like they are deliberately working on making their long-haul business class seat portfolio unnecessarily complex, almost to the level of how AA's used to be like until last year. Which is so strange, when for a while, LH was known for consistency by having the same exact F seat and subpar J seat throughout their entire long-haul fleet, and it was even apparently a major factor in making them a "Skytrax 5-star airline". Lol. I also want to see them retrofit the 747-8s and A330s (since realistically the 747-400s and A340s are on their way out) with the new business class seat, but apparently, they don't have any plans for that.
haha actually you are giving the answer to your question yourself. SIN, SFO, LAX and also for example NYC are super strong business markets in which LH for sure doesn't want to loose 40% of their business seat capacity. I have insight into LH, LX and OS seat occupancy numbers and trust me, those destinations are always full in J, notwithstanding the mediocre business class. CAN Destinations however are very often overbooked in Y and...
haha actually you are giving the answer to your question yourself. SIN, SFO, LAX and also for example NYC are super strong business markets in which LH for sure doesn't want to loose 40% of their business seat capacity. I have insight into LH, LX and OS seat occupancy numbers and trust me, those destinations are always full in J, notwithstanding the mediocre business class. CAN Destinations however are very often overbooked in Y and not full in J, so their strategy is perfectly reasonable.
I think the business class configuration on these planes feel like premium economy. The "suites" with the doors and the 1-2-1 configuration the seats are much bigger and it seems that you get more space.
Why get both A350s and 787s, isn't there a huge crossover between them in terms of capacity and range?
Hi Ben. Was wondering what website do you use to keep track of the airlines schedule changes and additions. You mentioned that Lufthansa has had many schedule additions in the last 24 hours. How do you find out?
Why not wet lease these planes? Those great Filipino flight attendants can keep their jobs. Lufthansa would spend less than using its own flight attendants.A win-win.
That would go well with the unions...
I don't know why I would expect a racist to have good reading comprehension but since you seem particularly stupid - Lufthansa is taking the planes and nothing else from Philippines.
Where exactly do you see any racist remarks? Can we please stop with the race card for once?
Gotta love how Philippine Airlines offers a better hard product in Business Class than Lufthansa does these days.
*Skytrax 5 star airline Lufthansa
Their soft product is 100x better too
It doesn't matter if the business model does not work out and the airline goes bankrupt.