Lufthansa is in talks with both Airbus and Boeing to modify existing aircraft orders, potentially replacing widebody jets with smaller aircraft.
Lufthansa In Discussions To Downsize Jet Orders
Speaking virtually, Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr told the London School of Economics on Monday that both Airbus and Boeing have been approached concerning the new reality of a pandemic-altered world. And both have shown “flexibility” in discussions over existing existing orders, according to Bloomberg.
Spohr also expressed pessimism about the future of intercontinental travel, shockingly predicting that business travel between the U.S. and Europe would NEVER return to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, Lufthansa is looking at modifying existing orders with both planemakers.
“We are putting many four-engined long-range aircraft out of the fleet and this creates a certain need for smaller long-range aircraft. These are very dynamic discussions.”
Currently, Lufthansa has the following confirmed widebody orders:
- 20 Boeing 777X
- 20 Boeing 787-9
- 43 Airbus A350-900s (17 have already been delivered)
It also has orders for 89 Airbus single-aisle aircraft on the books.
As Lufthansa adjusts to the new reality, a number of possibilities are at play. The 777X aircraft, first to feature Lufthansa’s new business class cabin, could be scrapped for more Dreamliners. Airbus A350s, now a backbone of the Lufthansa longhaul fleet, could give way to smaller A330neos or even single-aisle A321LR aircraft that could make transatlantic crossings feasible despite fewer passengers.
Or it could be that Lufthansa claims force majeure (i.e., a contractual term for an “act of God” that releases one or both parties from performance obligations) and tries to wiggle out of its contracts that way.
Lufthansa is holding discussions with Airbus and Boeing to potentially downsize orders on the book, potentially trading larger jets for much smaller ones. While the disposition of such discussions may come down to how well-written the contacts are, the revelation from Spohr reveals what will likely be an industry-wide trend.