DALLAS – Lufthansa (LH) revealed its final decision on the future of the Airbus A380 fleet. LH’s Superjumbos will be reactivated starting in summer 2023. This is due to high passenger demand and delays in aircraft deliveries.
Just as almost every airline did in 2020, LH stopped operating the wide-body, double-decker airliner amid the COVID-19 pandemic and extremely low passenger demand. The 14 aircraft in the airline’s fleet went to long-term storage in France and in Spain.
As the industry is recovering from the pandemic, airlines have started to decide whether to reactivate their A380 fleets or not. For example, Air France (AF) said it would not operate the aircraft again, but British Airways (BA) has already started operating the type and announced it would bring back the whole fleet.
However, LH was not so optimistic about the aircraft’s future at the beginning of this year. Indeed, in March 2022, the Group’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, said to Der Spiegel, “That’s finally over. Compared to the latest twin-engine long-haul jets, the A380 is too uneconomical. Lufthansa won’t be making it again.”
Lufthansa’s Decision Concerning Its Superjumbos
Now, LH has multiple reasons to fly the aircraft again. The aviation industry is fastly recovering from the pandemic, and airlines in Europe face an uptick in passenger demand. Airlines and airports in Europe also encounter staff shortages, leading to multiple flight cancellations.
In this context, flying very big aircraft such as the A380, which carries up to 509 passengers, can be very useful for airlines to meet the high demand. Moreover, the A380 can be very profitable for airlines if the load factor is high enough.
Lufthansa has had to deal with delays on many of its long-haul aircraft orders, especially that of the Boeing 777-9. In fact, first deliveries of the type are not expected before 2025 due to certification delays.
The German flag carrier had ordered the Boeing 777X in 2013, with 20 firm orders and 14 options. The airline then announced a new order for seven 777-8F freighter aircraft earlier this year.
Reactivating the A380
Of the 14 A380s delivered to LH, six of them have already been sold. The eight remaining aircraft are still owned by LH and are currently in long-term storage. The airline did not say how many aircraft will be reactivated in 2023 or the destinations they will fly to.
Before the pandemic, these aircraft operated about 20 routes, including US flights to New York (JFK), Miami (MIA), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), and San Francisco (SFO).
The airline’s Executive Board explained in a joint letter, “In the summer of 2023, we not only expect to have a much more reliable air transport system worldwide. We will be welcoming you back on board our Airbus A380s, too. We decided today to put the A380, which continues to enjoy great popularity, back into service at Lufthansa in summer 2023.”
It continued, “In addition to this, we are further strengthening and modernizing our fleets with some 50 new Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777-9 long-haul aircraft and more than 60 new Airbus A320/321s in the next three years alone.”
With the decision to reactivate its A380 fleet, the German carrier attempts to meet next year’s passenger demand and counterbalance the gap in long-haul capacity due to delays in aircraft deliveries.
Featured image: Lufthansa operated 14 A380 before the pandemic. Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways