Lufthansa is to keep its fleet of Airbus A380’s in deep storage for at least two years according to Klaus Froese, the airline’s manager for its main hub in Frankfurt. Even then, there’s no guarantee the superjumbos will ever return and will only be put back into service if there is a strong enough demand for the double-deck aircraft. Lufthansa’s A380’s are configured with a maximum load of 508 passengers.
“This is no longer a question of prestige, that’s a thing of the past,” Froese explained. “It changed pretty quickly since the decision to no longer build the aircraft.” Lufthansa has already decided to retire half of its 14-strong A380 fleet and the remainder will likely be transferred to the airline’s secondary Munich hub should demand return.
“In Frankfurt, the chance that we will again operate any A380 is close to zero. That’s all but decided,” Froese said. “In Munich, we will have to see. Planning is very difficult in these times.” Possible “thick” routes that the A380 might be deployed on include New York and Chicago.
In March, Lufthansa announced it would ground its entire A380 fleet until at least June but since then the COVID-19 pandemic has led airlines around the world to reevaluate the long-term viability of the planes. Last month, Air France wrote off its nine-strong fleet of A380’s – the last flight, reserved just for Air France employees, is scheduled to take place later this month.
Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the A380, has reportedly drawn up plans to retire around 65 of its A380’s as is in talks with manufacturer Airbus to cancel the last remaining A380’s still due to be delivered. The airline’s president Sir Tim Clark, however, remains optimistic that there might still be an important place for the aircraft in its fleet.
Lufthansa now doesn’t expect a full recovery from the Corona crisis until 2023 and even then, the airline’s chief executive Carsten Sphor predicts the fleet will be 100 aircraft smaller than what it was at the beginning of this year. The airline also already announced the early retirement of 10 Airbus A340s and five Boeing 747-400s.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.