Last week, I reported that Lufthansa was considering grounding its entire Airbus A380 fleet. It’s now official: all 14 Lufthansa A380s will soon be grounded. Who’s next? Air France? British Airways?
Aero Telegraph (via OMAAT) reports it viewed an internal Lufthansa document which confirmed the plan to ground the A380 fleet until May. Startlingly, the document also revealed A380 loads have averaged 35%, which is not enough to be profitable.
Grounding the A380 is only one side of the problem. What happens to the staff, especially pilots who are only rated to fly the A380?
Lufthansa is already offering unpaid leave for all employees and instituted a hiring freeze. New initiatives are on hold, which may affect projects like Lufthansa’s new first class product for the 777.
But with Lufthansa considering cuts of up to 50% across the Lufthansa Group (Austrian, Brussels, Eurowings, Lufthansa, and SWISS), voluntary leave will unlikely be enough.
Stay tuned for potential labor disharmony (including strikes) if Lufthansa pilots and flight attendants are grounded on a long-term basis.
Is Air France Next?
With Ben Smith at the helm of Air France, I’m frankly surprised we haven’t seen the Air France A380s parked yet. Recall Smith’s explanation for why Air France is already electing to retire the A380s ahead of schedule:
“The other seven have older seats and we’re in the middle of making the decision on how long those A380s will be staying in the Air France fleet and whether we should invest €30-€40 million ($33.8-$45.1 million) per aircraft in upgrading those seats.”
This seems like the perfect opportunity to accelerate that effort. I hope not before I get the chance to fly it…
> Read More: Air France A380 Retirement Is Hardly A Surprise
Lufthansa will park the A380s at their respective bases in Frankfurt and Munich.
I wonder if Air France is next and potentially British Airways as well? Sadly, it seems like an ideal time for Air France to pull its aging A380s out of the fleet ahead of schedule.
image: Kohei Kanno / Wikimedia Commons