The big seats up front matter a lot for Lufthansa. The carrier, citing “growing premium demand, for business as well as leisure travel,” will “temporarily” reactivate five of its A340-600 aircraft for the Summer 2022 season to help fill that need.
The A346s will be based at the carrier’s Munich hub and serve routes to North America and Asia. These A340s are the only Munich-based fleet to offer first class seats on board. At Frankfurt that role is filled by the 747-8i fleet.
These reactivated A340s should remain in service for a couple of years as the carrier awaits delivery of its next tranche of A350-900s. Five more were ordered in May and delivery of the new configuration is expected in “late summer 2023.”
Those new A350s will also include a first class cabin when delivered, though details on how many seats and how different it will be from the business class product.
Some reports suggest just the first row will be designated as first class. This would allow the carrier to offer minor improvements in the seat (e.g. larger screen) without investing in a materially different product for the cabin. Other airlines have deployed first class in that manner over the years, though the lack of differentiation proved challenging to sell in some of those cases.
Korean is one that chose that path back in 2019, citing soft demand for its first class product in leisure markets. That the product had little differentiation from business class likely did not help.
It is also possible that the carrier will keep the 8-seat first class cabin size flying on the A346 and 748i today. That would be more likely to consist of a new, dedicated hard product on board, however.
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