Following a recommendation by the Deutsche Lufthansa AG executive board, which is headed by Dr. Christoph Franz, Lufthansa Group’s supervisory board has approved firm orders for 59 next-generation widebody aircraft for the group’s long-haul airlines.
Lufthansa Group’s planned firm orders include 34 Boeing 777-9Xs and 25 Airbus A350-900s. The group will also take options on another 30 A350-900s, the deal giving it the flexibility to convert part of its Airbus A350 XWB buy to specify the larger A350-1000 if it wishes.
These aircraft are primarily for operation by Lufthansa, but potentially also for group subsidiaries Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, Brussels Airlines and possibly Zurich-based charter subsidiary Edelweiss Air as well.
Boeing has not yet launched the 777-9X program, the company planning to do so later this year. Its September 19 order will make Lufthansa Group the launch customer for the 400-seat Boeing 777-9X.
According to Lufthansa Group, the first of the new widebodies – which will be an Airbus A350-900 – will be delivered as early as 2016.
The group’s older Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-300s will be phased out by 2025. The new aircraft will primarily be used replace existing aircraft at Lufthansa, the group’s largest carrier, according to Lufthansa Group.
Lufthansa Group’s A350-900s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB 84 engines – the Trent XWB is the sole engine choice on the Airbus A350 XWB family – and its Boeing 777-9Xs by GE Aviation GE9X engines.
The GE9X is now under development and will be the sole engine choice for the 777-9X and its proposed smaller, longer-range sister the 777-8X.
Lufthansa Group says its latest orders have a total list-price value of €14 billion ($18.72 billion) and represent the largest single private-sector investment in the history of German industry.
“This investment will safeguard about 13,000 jobs at Lufthansa alone as well as thousands of jobs at our partners in aviation and other suppliers,” Christoph Franz, chairman of the executive board and CEO of the Lufthansa Group, said at a September 19 press conference announcing the planned orders.
Lufthansa currently operates a widebody fleet of around 107 aircraft, among them 10 Airbus A380s and nine Boeing 747-8Is (with 11 more on order) as well as 18 Airbus A330-300s.
The German carrier’s current long-haul fleet also includes 48 Airbus A340s and 22 Boeing 747-400s.
In addition, group subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines has 31 widebody jets and the carrier also has six Boeing 777-300ERs yet to be delivered. Austrian Airlines’ widebody fleet consists of 12 aircraft, which are Boeing 767-300ERs and 777-200ERs.
Brussels Airlines has eight A330s in service and Edelweiss Air two A330-200s, one of which is leased from parent Swiss International.
Lufthansa Group says its aims with the new order are to reduce the number of different models and fleet complexity in the group’s Passenger Airline Group segment and also to replace existing aircraft with next-generation aircraft.
In March, the Group approved the purchase of more than 100 short and medium-haul aircraft. This order included six new Boeing 777-300ER widebodies for Swiss International Air Lines, some of these aircraft intended to replace the carrier’s older Airbus A340-300s.
“Less fuel consumption, less CO2 emissions and less noise: The aircraft on order will enable us to make a quantum leap in efficiency and to enter the 2-litre class”, said Franz.
The 59 new aircraft will consume an average of just 2.9 liters of kerosene per passenger per 100 kilometers (60 miles) flown, according to Lufthansa Group. This is around 25 per cent less than the average fuel burn of comparable aircraft available today and it will have a positive impact on the Group’s carbon footprint.
Unit costs for operating the new aircraft will sink by approximately 20 per cent compared with predecessor models, according to Lufthansa Group.
Lufthansa Group’s September 19 decision underpins the group’s status as Airbus’ largest airline customer and operator, with 535 Airbus aircraft ordered to date and 397 currently in operation by the group’s airlines.
Airbus jets currently in service with Lufthansa Group include 282 A320-family jets, 42 A330s, 63 A340s and 10 A380s.
Earlier this year Lufthansa announced an order for 100 Airbus A320-family aircraft, to standardize its single-aisle fleet in the 150-230-seat size category entirely to Airbus. The order also included two more A380 superjumbos.
In the first nine months of 2013, Airbus has won firm orders and planned firm orders for more aircraft from Lufthansa (125) in a single year than ever before.
Taking all commitments (firm orders and options) into account the figure rises to 232 aircraft – one more than the 231 Airbus aircraft currently in operation with the airline Lufthansa.
The Airbus A350 XWB has already won firm orders for 682 aircraft from 35 customers, not including the 25 A350-900s which Lufthansa Group has announced it intends to order.
Lufthansa Group airlines today operate 93 Boeing jets.