MIAMI — Lufthansa announced a large order this morning for 59 new widebody jets as part of a broader fleet renewal project. The order is split between 34 Boeing 777-9X and 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, along with options for thirty more of each. The first aircraft are due to be delivered as early as 2016, and will serve to phase out older Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-300s.
Lufthansa will become the launch customer for the 777-9X, a redesigned version of the incredibly popular 777 family. The 777-9X has yet to be formally launched, though sources tell Airchive it could come during the Dubai Airshow in November (fun fact, Lufthansa is no stranger to being a launch customer, they also launched the 737 and the 747-8i). As a result LH will be waiting awhile for these planes in particular: entry into service is not expected until the end of the decade at the earliest.
Nonetheless the order is a big win for Boeing as this is the first 777 order under the LH banner. Until now the German carrier has continually taken a pass on the 777 in favor of the A340-600, though they did order six 777s for subsidiary Swiss International earlier this year.
Boeing was also pitching Lufthansa a package including the 787-10 and 747-8, while Airbus was pitching the A350-1000 instead of the 777-9 – Lufthansa had been saying that it would prefer to go with one OEM for some time, but the split was too ideal to pass up.
The Airbus portion of the order is not terribly surprising given Lufthansa’s already Airbus heavy long-haul fleet. Sources tell Airchive the A350-900 was chosen over the 787-10 for this round of replacements (mostly earmarked for A340 replacement), due in part to the A350-900’s better payload-range capabilities give Lufthansa more flexibility on the long haul network.
The 787-10 will still be a player when group-wide A330-300s (Swiss, Brussels Airlines, and Lufthansa), come up for replacements, and Lufthansa has raved about the 787-10’s capabilities in the past. The new investment pushes the total number of A350 program orders just north of 700.
While it may seem unusual to split the widebody order between competitive products, this is not a terribly novel strategy. Lufthansa itself operates both the giant Airbus A380 and next-gen 747-8i, both of which are relatively new to the fleet.
The order also comes amid a broader restructuring effort in which Lufthansa has been shedding jobs to help pay for new planes in a bid to reduce their fuel bills and keep up with rivals. The airline has a whopping 295 new aircraft on order which will continue to be delivered through 2025.