LONDON – Six of Lufthansa’s (LH) Boeing 747-400 are currently stuck in Twente Airport (ENS), the Netherlands after the airport does not have the legal documents to let the aircraft leave. LH flew the six airframes out to ENS earlier this year, following the decline in demand caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The legality behind the departures comes from the airport’s side, having not accessed the correct approval for heavy aircraft to depart the airport, meaning the aircraft have to stay there until approval is reached.

It is understood that according to Tubantia, the aircraft were supposed to be dismantled initially, with LH deciding against this in the end.

Photo: Liam Funnell

Legal Action Looking Likely


ENS is currently talking with the Dutch Aviation Authority over the future of the aircraft. It is understood that if talks fail, then legal action will be taken by the airport to ensure that the aircraft can depart.

It is unclear who is at fault here, especially with the argument that LH should have known what certificates ENS had before sending the aircraft over there.

On the other hand, it could be down to the fact that most airports across Europe are trying to store the hundreds of aircraft that don’t need to fly at this present time. Twente Airport may have had the space that was needed to accommodate the aircraft.

Photo: Liam Funnell

What Airframes Are Stuck in Twente?


According to data supplied by Planespotters.net, the following aircraft are in storage at Twente Airport:

  • D-ABTK (L.N. 1293/ MSN 29871) – Delivered December 2001.
  • D-ABTL (L.N. 1299/ MSN 29872) – Delivered March 2002.
  • D-ABVO (L.N. 1080/ MSN 28086) – Delivered May 1996.
  • D-ABVP (L.N. 1103/ MSN 28284) – Delivered February 1997.
  • D-ABVS (L.N. 1109/ MSN 28286) – Delivered April 1997.
  • D-ABVX (L.N. 1237/ MSN 29868) – Delivered December 1999.

The other 747-400s in the fleet are stored across areas such as Hamburg (HAM), Tarbes (LDE), and Teruel (TEV), three key storage destinations across Europe. It is also the same for other aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet as well.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Future of the -400s?


At the moment, it is unclear what the future of the -400s will be like in the Lufthansa fleet, especially as the -8s the airline has have only been delivered within the last eight to ten years.

With a fleet of 19 -8s, the -400s could easily be sent off for scrap, as there would be enough aircraft to service the specific destinations from Frankfurt (FRA) and beyond.

Other airlines such as KLM (KL), British Airways (BA) and Air France (AF) have already taken steps to retire and decommission the aircraft out of service.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

What’s Next?


It appears that bizarrely, LH is the one that has to play the waiting game, while ENS and the authorities fight it out to determine the future of the aircraft.

For the authorities to say no about its departure approval, this could mean that the aircraft may get either scrapped at ENS or will have to go into long-term storage whilst the airport takes the necessary legal action.

Then again, there is definitely nothing from LH stepping in and joining up with ENS to take the Dutch authorities to court. All we can do now is wait and see what happens.


Featured Image: Lufthansa Boeing 747-400. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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