Lufthansa to downsize its fleet, permanently retire 32 aircraft

Photo: © Phillip Rohmberger / IFN

Lufthansa will permanently retire parts of its fleet due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. The airline expects long-term demand to be affected beyond the current pandemic.

In a release published on Tuesday afternoon, the company explains that it does not see demand coming back very quickly once travel restrictions are lifted, and is therefore forced to cut its operations beyond the temporary suspensions already in place.

For its long-haul fleet, Lufthansa will remove six Airbus A380, seven A340-600 and five Boeing 747-400 from its operations. Furthermore, Lufthansa CityLine will retire three Airbus A340-300 that it was operating on behalf of its parent.

The German flag-carrier had already planned to sell six of its 14 A380s to Airbus in 2022 before the current crisis. It was not immediately clear whether the phase out would now be moved forward.

On short-haul, Lufthansa itself will withdraw eleven Airbus A320 aircraft from service. Further cuts are being made at its subsidiary airlines. Low-cost carrier Eurowings plans to retire a number of aircraft, while Germanwings, which was exclusively operating its fleet for Eurowings, will completely close down.

The Group also states that it has terminated almost all wet-lease agreements with other operators. However, it is currently unclear which airlines would be affected by this move.

Vienna-based Austrian Airlines does not expect to reach ‘pre-Corona’ levels before 2023, and is therefore reducing its fleet size to an unknown extend.

Lufthansa says it aims to offer continued employment to its as much of its workforce as possible.

Meanwhile, airlines are rushing to increase freight capacities, as passenger aircraft, which are also able to carry a small amount of cargo, are mostly out of service for the time being. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said on Tuesday evening that the airline is now using 20 passenger aircraft to carry cargo. In three of them, seats will be completely removed to open more space for goods.

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