With delivery timing on its 777X fleet still uncertain, Lufthansa is turning to the 787-9 to help backfill missing capacity. The carrier added seven new passenger aircraft to its order book, while also expanding its Boeing freighter operations.
By purchasing these state-of-the-art aircraft, we again underline Lufthansa Group’s ability to invest in and shape the future.– Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG
The deal calls for seven more 787-9s to be added to Lufthansa’s order book. These, much like five aircraft added to the backlog a year ago, were originally slated for another Boeing customer. This allows the carrier to get delivery slots sooner than might otherwise have been available. Still, these additional seven planes are not expected to join Lufthansa’s operations until 2025-2026.
In the intervening two years other 787 deliveries are to be accelerated. Some are the whitetail aircraft previously slated for HNA Group and now headed to Lufthansa. Others are aircraft the company ordered directly. That delivery timeline previously was expected to run through 2027. Exact details on the accelerated schedule are unclear, with the carrier stating that already ordered aircraft will, “in some cases, brought forward to 2023 and 2024.”
Details on pricing for the new aircraft were not released, but Lufthansa does note that the 787-9s are “intended to fill the capacity gaps created by the delayed delivery of the Boeing 777-9 (originally scheduled for delivery in 2023, currently advised in 2025).” And, for now, the 777X order remains intact.
Given comments made this week by Air Lease Corp executive Steven Udvar-Hazy suggesting that “decisions whether to continue with the programe or not, it will probably not be made by this board of directors anyway,” the 777X would seem to be on shaky ground.
Air Lease Chief Executive John Plueger added, “One has to question a little bit the 777X program and its viability.”
Further commitments from existing customers are good. But hedging with alternate aircraft types makes a lot of sense, too.
Lufthansa has also suggested it could use A330s, A340s, or even A380s already in its fleet if needed to fill gaps in capacity, depending on what Boeing is able to actually pull off with deliveries. Keeping in mind that the airframer is still not delivering 787s, a year after it was forced to halt over build quality issues, any timing is, at this point, highly theoretical.
Cargo aircraft continue to be a leading consideration for Lufthansa, and even with the 777X delivery delays the carrier is ready to commit further to the product line. It will purchase seven 777X Freighter aircraft, with deliveries expected from 2027. Assuming the development and delivery timelines hold.
It will also take a trio of 777F freighters from Boeing. One is currently flying for another airline and will be transferred to Lufthansa “in the upcoming weeks.” The other two will be new build aircraft.
Lufthansa will also extend its lease on two 777F frames, previously set to expire in 2024.
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