The delivery of the 600th new Airbus aircraft to Lufthansa marks a historic milestone. Not a single airline has taken delivery of more than the German airline group, which received an A321neo with ‘600’ decals on the fuselage during a ceremony in Hamburg on Wednesday. Lufthansa and Airbus celebrate 600 deliveries.
The event was attended by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and his Airbus colleague Guillaume Faury (main picture). Faury noted that since the first delivery of an A300B2 on February 9, 1976, Lufthansa has received an Airbus aircraft every month.
According to Airbus’ own data sheet, Lufthansa has ordered 536 aircraft that are currently in production or still listed by the airframer, has taken delivery of 427, and operates 265. Subsidiary Austrian Airlines is listed with 32 orders, 32 deliveries, and 37 in operation, SWISS with 87/70/76. More than ninety percent of the delivered aircraft are still in service.
Data also shows that IndiGo has ordered 830 current and new-generation aircraft, took delivery of 348, and operates 272. NAS Aviation Services is listed with 633 orders and 528 deliveries. Lessor ILFC is listed with 600 orders and deliveries, but the company is now part of AerCap.
First order in 1975
Lufthansa ordered three Airbus A300B2s in 1975, a choice that was largely politically motivated as Germany was one of the founding shareholders of the European airframer. It eventually operated eleven B2s. In 1979, Lufthansa was the launch customer for the smaller A310-200, with the first of twenty deliveries (including the -300s) in 1983.
The airline also launched the A340-200 in June 1987 with an order for fifteen but eventually ordered 35 A340-200s and -300s, with the first deliveries starting in 1993. It also had 24 of the stretched A340-600 that was launched later and of which nine are still in service today.
In 1987, the airline also received the first A300-600 of the fifteen it would operate. Also launched that year together with the A340 was the A330 twin-jet, but Lufthansa operated only five -200s as it preferred the longer -300. The first A330 joined in 2004. Once, the fleet included eighteen of them, but only eleven remain in service now.
Delivery of the first A300B2 to Lufthansa on February 9, 1976. (Lufthansa)
Over the years, Lufthansa has ordered 341 A320 family aircraft, excluding those for its subsidiary airlines SWISS, Austrian Airlines, and Brussels Airlines. It started with a modest order for fifteen A320s with the first delivery in 1989. It was the launch customer of the A320neo family. Today, the group has over 370 still in operation, with more A320neo’s and A321neo’s to come from unfilled orders. The A318 is the only Airbus-type that Lufthansa has failed to operate.
Lufthansa claims that it was also the launch customer for the A220, but that’s not correct. The aircraft is known as the A220 since 2018 and was the Bombardier CSeries before that, at a time when it was bought by SWISS.
Proud customer of the A380
Lufthansa was a proud customer of the A380 when it took delivery of the first aircraft in 2010. It had fourteen double-deckers, but the Covid crisis almost meant the end for the type within the fleet. Thanks to a combination of a very strong recovery of air travel and the supply chain issues with OEMs, Lufthansa is bringing four aircraft back into service this year and another two in 2024. The faith of the remaining two in Lufthansa’s ownership has yet to be decided.
The A340-300 continues to be in service with Lufthansa, but only until more A350s and 787s arrive. (Richard Schuurman)
The relationship with Airbus has continued with the A350-900, which entered the fleet in 2016. Lufthansa operates 21 of them, with another twelve joining in the coming years as newly-built or second-hand aircraft. Five will join SWISS. According to Airbus data, Lufthansa ordered fifty A350-900s.
In 2026, when Lufthansa will celebrate its centenary, the first A350-1000 should be delivered of the ten that have been ordered in March. This could well be the 700th Airbus aircraft for Lufthansa. With his third term as CEO recently confirmed, it is likely that Carsten Spohr will collect the aircraft himself again.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.