Lufthansa Group considers adding aircraft originally destined for Russian airlines

Lufthansa is interested in receiving additional Airbus A350 aircraft. Photo: © Lufthansa

Lufthansa Group is considering to acquire or lease aircraft that were originally destined for now-sanctioned Russian airlines.

As airplanes and spare parts are among the list of the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, it will no longer be possible for aircraft manufacturers to deliver ordered jets to airlines in Russia. This primarily affects Airbus, the manufacturer with the most orders by Russian carriers, including a significant contract for A350 by Aeroflot.

In addition, financial sanctions could lead foreign leasing companies to demand aircraft back from their Russian customers. Combined, these two factors will likely result in a lot of both factory-new and used airplanes ending up on the leasing or second-hand market.

This has sparked the interest of Lufthansa Group, as CEO Casten Spohr confirmed at a press conference on Thursday (3rd March). He says Lufthansa is already in talks with aircraft manufacturers regarding additional aircraft deliveries. His airline group is particularly interested in the Airbus A350, an aircraft type for which sanctioned Aeroflot has 14 outstanding orders. Furthermore, Lufthansa Cargo is interested in additional Boeing 777 freighters, which are currently ordered by Russian air cargo group Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

Costs of the airspace closure

Russia’s war against Ukraine and resulting sanctions have led to airspace closures on both sides. Russian airlines are no longer allowed to fly to the European Union, while European airlines are flying detours around Russian airspace. In addition to countless suspended direct flights between Russia/Ukraine and Europe, this also leads to longer flight times on other routes, resulting in higher costs for airlines.

Lufthansa Group CEO Spohr says the company is forced to fly longer routes south of Russia. A detour over US state Alaska has reportedly been considered by some airlines. However, it is not an option for passenger airlines of Lufthansa Group. “We used to do this in the past, but at the moment the southern route has more advantages“, Spohr states. Meanwhile, Lufthansa Cargo is exploring the option of routing flights via Alaska. “If at all, this is only an option for our cargo, and the colleagues at [Lufthansa Cargo] network management are, in fact, examining it“.

The routing south of Russia has the advantage of having significantly lower fees than Siberian airspace. This absorbs some of the additional costs caused by detours on flights between Europe and Asia. Overall, Lufthansa Group expects the longer routings to cost several Million Euros each month. Without the Covid-19 pandemic, this figure would be significantly higher, as severe travel restrictions at many east Asian destinations still result in lower flying activity.