During an IATA gathering in Cape Town, South Africa, Lufthansa Chief Christoph Franz discussed the 10-15 +year vision of the 747-400 and 747-8i fleet and their potential replacement.
In an article published in Aviation Week by Jens Flottau, Herr Franz states that he feels that Lufthansa can gain substantial savings and economies of scale by focusing their long haul fleet on twin engine aircraft, primarily Boeing’s 777 and Airbus’ new A350 (which could make a surprise appearance in Paris for the Air Show).
Emotionally, I don’t like this path, since I have been a fan of the 747 model since I was knee-high to a grass hopper and was hoping that a 747-9i would come to the rescue of the breed.
However, from a business perspective, it makes all the sense in the world. Boeing’s latest planned iterations of the 777, the 777-8 and 777-9, will have almost the same capacity as a 747-8i but due to it being a twin engine airframe, will be substantially more economical to operate. Airbus’ A350 will be another key factor (and perhaps a bigger piece of the solution) in Lufthansa’s decision and Boeing’s 787-Dreamliner can’t be ruled out of the equation as asuitable alternative.
According to the ATW article, it looks as though LH is well into planning this next phase of fleet modernization and we could see an announcement from Lufthansa in the near future. They are already expected to announce a large order for long haul aircraft fairly soon and some of this strategy may be played out in that announcement.
For now though, it looks like the 747-8i will be gainfully employed for at least the next 10-15 years…….