Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

Coronavirus: Lufthansa says its fleet of A380s may never return to skies

The Covid-19 pandemic is hastening the demise of the Airbus superjumbo as a front-line aircraft

Aircraft of German carrier Lufthansa are parked at the Berlin Schoenefeld airport. Reuters
Aircraft of German carrier Lufthansa are parked at the Berlin Schoenefeld airport. Reuters

German airline Lufthansa’s fleet of Airbus A380 jets will be mothballed for at least two years and may never return to service as demand for long-haul travel remains subdued in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

With Lufthansa - Europe’s biggest carrier - already retiring about half of its 14 superjumbos, remaining jets will be relegated to its secondary hub in Munich. Flights could resume there in 2022 if there’s enough demand on “thick” routes such as New York and Chicago, said Klaus Froese, who runs the carrier’s main Frankfurt base.

“In Frankfurt, the chance that we will again operate any A380 is close to zero. That’s all but decided,” he said. “In Munich we will have to see. Planning is very difficult in these times.”

“This is no longer a question of prestige, that’s a thing of the past”

Klaus Froese, Lufthansa

The Covid-19 pandemic is hastening the demise of the A380 as a front-line aircraft, with Air France phasing out the jet and Dubai-based Emirates, the largest operator, said to be considering plans that could see 65 retired.

Lufthansa grounded the double-decker in March with the rest of its passenger fleet as the virus spread, and has said seven planes will be permanently withdrawn.

Mr Froese said that while the current plan is for the remaining A380s to make a comeback, that will only happen if they have a role to play.

“This is no longer a question of prestige, that’s a thing of the past,” he said.

Munich, which began limited A380 services in 2018, may be a better fit for the mammoth jet because costs at a terminal part-owned by Lufthansa are lower.

Lufthansa expects to take delivery of Boeing’s first 777X wide-bodies from the middle of next year, Mr Froese said. Those planes are set to be deployed at Frankfurt, with Munich served by the rival Airbus A350.

The carrier’s chief executive Carsten Spohr has said the fleet will be cut by about 100 aircraft overall.

Lufthansa has also permanently withdrawn 10 A340s and five Boeing 747-400s

Updated: June 19, 2020 01:43 PM

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