Negotiations between Lufthansa, Europe’s biggest airline, and Airbus and Boeing have reached another ninth inning. Within weeks, Lufthansa will announce a $10-billion deal to purchase about 50 wide-body aircraft. Rumor suggests they’re going with a mix of 777Xs and A350–900s.
But don’t bet on it. Not yet. Not today. Airlines use indecision as a negotiating tactic. Imagine the pressure on the closers of the Big Two aircraft manufacturers. What was that line in Glengarry Glen Ross – first prize is a Cadillac, second prize a set of steak knives, third prize you’re fired?
Wide-body options for the German carrier include all Boeing 787-10s or 777Xs; a full house of A350s with promises for the -900 and the -1000; or the rumored mix of 777Xs and A350-900s. A decision will be announced at a September 18 board meeting.
Last March, at the Paris International Airshow, Airbus pitched a no-hitter and Lufthansa signed a deal for 100 A320 aircraft consisting of 35 A320neo, 35 A321neo and 30 A320ceo with Sharklets.
Lufthansa was the launch customer for the A321 and among the first operators of the A319 and A320. They are the largest Airbus customer and operator in Europe.
The grounding of the Dreamliner earlier this year may have taken some of the shine off the new 787. But this month, Lufthansa’s Chief Financial Officer told Reuters that “a lot of aircraft have teething problems in the beginning, like the 747-400, and now it’s flying absolutely reliable for years and years and years.”
Boeing’s 777X has not yet launched, and the A350 made its maiden flight in June.
The earliest delivery of Lufthansa’s new wide-body aircraft is expected to be 2018. They will replace 22 Boeing 747-400s and more than 20 Airbus A340s, sending them down to the minor leagues.
Lufthansa already operates 340 aircraft, including seven A380s and eight 747-8s, with another 11 747-8s and seven A380s on order. Not to carry the baseball metaphor too far (OK, it’s far too late for that), but you really do need a scorecard.
Lufthansa reports flying 4.9 million passengers per month to more than 200 destinations in 80 countries.
Orders are booked years in advance, so Lufthansa would buy the latest versions of the recently launched 787-10, the 777X-9 and the A350-1000, according to a source who spoke to Reuters.
Lufthansa has seriously been studying the 777-9X as a replacement for their 747-400 fleet. They don’t yet fly 777s, but Lufthansa Cargo has ordered five 777Fs (delivery in October). Its subsidiary, Austrian Airlines, has four 777-200ERs, and its other subsidiary, Swiss International Air Lines, has placed orders for six 777-300ERs.
Efficiency is the game and Lufthansa wants to replace some of its 22 747-400s and 48 Airbus A340s (300/600) because of rising fuel prices. Some of its current 747s will convert to a two-class configuration.
Long-haul routes will see Frankfurt Airport using the Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8 and 747-400 fleets with some A340s and A330s. Munich Airport will be the hub for most of the A340s and A330s.
The Tarmac’s View: No airline plans, invests and pulls it off better than Lufthansa. Considering that Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines are part of the package, this is the undisputed Number One airline in the world.
MORE FROM THE TARMAC