DALLAS— On June 1, Lufthansa (LH) reinstated its Airbus A380s for revenue flights across the world, starting with the United States. The first destination planned was Boston (BOS) from Munich (MUC), operated by LH424.
In March, the LH announced the return of its A380s, which were put in storage amid the COVID-19 pandemic and were scheduled to retire soon after. LH was set to join Air France (AF), which retired its A380s at the start of the pandemic, and Singapore Airlines (SQ), which had already retired over half of its A380 fleet at the height of the pandemic.
However, after the pandemic, airlines such as LH began to record a sharp increase in demand for air travel and premium cabin products. Along with its newly designed cabin layout, released in the fall of 2023, the German carrier prepared its fleet of Superjumbos to accommodate the high number of travelers expected this summer.
Lufthansa’s A380s will also fly to New York (JFK) on July 4, as well as to multiple routes in India.
Airways had the opportunity to discuss the future of LH’s once-retired A380s with Dirk Janzen, Vice President of Sales in the Americas, and Tal Muscal, Director of Communications in the Americas.
Marty Basaria: LH’s decision to bring the A380 back into service signifies a rapid increase in passenger traffic. What are your predictions in terms of passenger traffic in the near future, and how will you handle what is to come?
Dirk Janzen: We currently see a strong increase in leisure demand in the aviation industry, and more specifically, a very strong point of sale (POS) in the United States. As a result, we predict that leisure travel will remain very strong, especially the demand for premium leisure, such as premium economy and business class seats.
This is a factor that we had not seen often before the pandemic. We also see corporate business recovering faster, and we expect a full recovery by 2024.
Most, if not all, of LH’s A380s are returning from a period of uncertainty in the COVID-19 era. How long do you estimate that the airline will keep these superjumbos active?
DJ: It was definitely a big decision to retire the A380 and to return them as well, especially because we had to train our pilots and crew in Spain and keep all aircraft up to date in terms of maintenance. We definitely plan at least several more years with the A380.
However, it also depends on the aircraft we currently have on order. Since there is a delay with these aircraft orders we are uncertain about when they will retire, we are confident that these aircraft will stay for a long period of time.
Now that the A380 is back in service, how will the aircraft benefit your company’s earnings?
DJ: The best advantage of the A380 is just the number of seats it has. For example, the aircraft has 78 business class seats, which is heavily needed in the market because we have a lot of smaller aircraft that do not include these premium seats present before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, it will be a very big change because we can fulfill this increased demand. Also, having eight first-class seats is significant because we do not have that many in a large portion of our fleet. The sheer increase in premium consumption will have a very positive impact on our profitability.
Many airlines operate flights across the pond. How will LH’s A380 add to the stiff competition?
DJ: At the moment, passenger demand is so strong that we could still add more capacity to a few routes. The case is that there is still not enough capacity in the market, and that is why at the moment all airlines are suffering from similar situations with delayed aircraft deliveries, and insufficient staff.
Right now, this is a market where adding capacity will benefit customers because they can more easily find seats on flights, which is currently a big issue.
Tal Musical: We have 25 gateways in the US, 30 if we include Canada. If we take a look at Boston, we have five daily flights by the LH Group: two to Frankfurt (FRA), two to Zürich (ZRH) with Swiss International Airlines (SWR), and one to MUC.
This summer is proving to be one of the busiest and most beneficial for all carriers—one of the best in many, many years. We could add more flights and more capacity; people are really excited to travel again.
There is more for everybody, and in the end, we will be very happy with the large capacity that comes with the A380.
Thank you, Mr. Janzen and Mr. Muscal, for the interview!
Featured image: Marty Basaria/Airways