Lufthansa does not see demand bouncing back for years and has responded by announcing the retirement of several longhaul and shorthaul aircraft.
When I accuse my German wife of being pessimistic, she corrects me and says she is just being realistic. It’s the German way. And at Lufthansa, the Executive Board has determined that aviation will not recover in the short-term and it will take many years for travel to return to 2019 levels. That’s not totally far-fetched considering the 1-2 punch of COVID-19 and flight shaming, but the board wasted no time in lining up several aircraft to be retired ahead of schedule.
What Aircraft Will Lufthansa Retire Due to COVID-19?
Effective immediately, Lufthansa will retire the following aircraft, blaming deteriorating demand from the current crisis:
- Lufthansa will retire five (of 13) Boeing 747-400s, citing the “economic disadvantages” of this plane type.
- Lufthansa will retire seven (of 17) Airbus A340-600s, citing the “economic disadvantages” of this plane type.
- Lufthansa will retire six (of 14) Airbus A380-800s, which were scheduled to go back to Airbus anyway in 2022.
- Lufthansa will retire three (of 3) Airbus A340-300s, which were used in it Cityline division to serve leisure destinations.
Additionally, the carrier will remove 11 Airbus A320s from shorthaul service.
Further Cuts At Austrian, Brussels, Eurowings, SWISS
Lufthansa also plans cutbacks at four additional airlines in its Lufthansa Group portfolio. The specific cuts at Austrian and Brussels have not made been public, though Lufthansa says that fleet reduction plans will accelerate. SWISS will delay the delivery of new short haul aircraft and “may” phase out older aircraft early.
Specific cuts have been announced at Eurowings. Germanwings will cease to exist as a brand and Eurowings will phase out 10 A320 aircraft. Furthermore, long-haul business class will be “reduced”, though no further explanation was offered.
This is a brutal time in the airline business and Lufthansa has adapted a
pessimistic realistic outlook on long-term depressed demand. The retirement targets some of my favorite aircraft, but thankfully there will still be 747s and A340s in the fleet. Expect first class routes, however, to be more limited.