R.I.P. Lufthansa A380, Sign of Airline Industry Overall?

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Welp, we can’t say that we did not see it coming but Lufthansa has made an announcement concerning the future of the carriers A380 and it’s not good news. Does Lufthansa have a pessimistic view of the future or is this an early sign for all A380 operators?

WINTER IS COMING

Yesterday, Lufthansa, the largest German airline and second largest airline in Europe in terms of passengers carried, revealed that international air traffic trends are down significantly. Additionally, as the high summer travel season comes to an end and the low fall/winter months approach, the future does not look bright.

Given this information, Lufthansa has announced they will be reducing their fleet by 150 aircraft, specifically:

  • Lufthansa’s 8 remaining Airbus A380s will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning
  • Lufthansa’s 10 remaining Airbus A340-600s will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning

Lufthansa goes on to say:

These aircraft will only be reactivated in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery. In addition, the remaining seven Airbus A340-600s will be permanently decommissioned.

NOT COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED

Lufthansa 747

This shouldn’t be too surprising as other carriers have made similar announcements.

Air France had planned to retire all of their A380’s by 2022. However, with the onset of the pandemic, Air France became the first airline to retire its entire A380 fleet in May 2020.

Despite their popularity among passengers, over the past few years, the Airbus A380 and Boeing B747 “Superjumbos” have become less popular with airlines because of their high maintenance, operational, and fuel costs compared to the A350 or B787.

Many airlines had already begun to set timelines to retire these behemoths even before the pandemic obliterated travel demand.

You may remember that Emirates’ Airline President Sir Tim Clark was asked if the downturn of the global economy will reduce the appetite of carriers for wide-body planes and Mr. Clark replied:

We know the A380 is over, the 747 is over but the A350 and the 787 will always have a place.

And if there is anyone in the industry that will understand the associated costs of operating an A380, it’s Emirates.

With 115 A380’s currently in their fleet (and 8 more to be delivered), the airplane comprises nearly 50% of the Emirates’ entire fleet.

FINAL STAMP

It’s worth noting the phrasing of the Lufthansa announcement. The carrier said “These planes will be put into long-term storage, and will only be reactivated if there’s a short-term unexpected increase in demand.”

Theoretically, there could be a short-term expected increase in demand. It’s unlikely…but possible. 😉

Welp, if you have never flown on the Lufthansa A380, the chances are fairly slim now but interestingly, there has been no update on the few remaining 747’s, so there is still hope!

What do you think about Lufthansa A380 “retirement?”

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