DELHI — Lufthansa’s first Airbus A350-900 has landed in New Delhi after completing its first long haul flight for the anchor carrier of Europe’s largest airline group. Lufthansa Flight 762 with nonstop service from Lufthansa’s hub at Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss International Airport to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport took off from Munich with an on-time departure at 12:30 CET and landed in Delhi 4 minutes early at 12:06 am IST to complete its inaugural long range mission.
The A350-900, which Lufthansa characterizes as “the world’s most modern and environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft”, had a load factor of more than 90% for the inaugural flight. The occasion was celebrated on the ground in Munich with a ribbon cutting ceremony and Bavarian music expo at the gate helmed by Steffen Harbarth, the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Lufthansa’s hub in Munich and Dr. Michael Kerkloh, the CEO of Munich Airport. Passengers on the first departure to New Delhi were also given gingerbread heart cookies to mark the milestone.
Just a day earlier, Lufthansa flew the A350-900 on its first commercial service, with roundtrip flight LH350 between Munich and Hamburg, which hosts Airbus’ Finkenwerder plant. On its flight path, the A350 conducted flyovers of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall and the Airbus plant, where many of the parts for the A350-900 were manufactured.
Lufthansa’s A350-900 is the first of a planned 25 aircraft in all, which will be delivered over the course of the next seven years (through 2023). The first 10 of these aircraft will be based at the Munich hub with service beginning to Delhi today. The next planned destination is Boston in March.
At 293 passengers including 48 in Business Class, 21 in true long-haul Premium Economy, and 224 in Economy Class, the A350-900 will slot into Lufthansa’s fleet flying similar missions to the Airbus A340-600 (281 or 297 seats) and A340-300 (279 seats) to a lesser extent. It is one of a growing fleet of jets not configured with international first class, increasingly the case at Lufthansa’s Munich hub. Frankfurt as the financial center of Europe has more demand for that product, but the placement of subsequent A350-900s in Frankfurt could augur poorly for the future of First Class at Lufthansa.