Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said last week that his airline was in discussion with Boeing about the 777X delays and potential new aircraft orders. But already four days later the German carrier has announced how it will bridge the gap until the first 777-9s are delivered in 2025. The solution: more 787-9s. At the same time, Lufthansa buys the 777-8F and more 777Fs. Lufthansa buys 777-8Fs plus 787s to bridge gap until arrival 777-9.

Spohr confirmed last Thursday during the Q1 result presentation that the one-year extra delay of the arrival of the first 777-9 poses a problem for Lufthansa. He presented four options to bridge that year from 2024 to 2025 and grow capacity: buying more 787s, sourcing young secondhand aircraft (787s and A350s), keeping the A340-300, and A340-600 longer in service, and reinstating the phased out A380.

For now, Lufthansa has selected option 1: more new 787s. The airline will take delivery of seven 787-9s in 2025 and 2026. These aircraft had been ordered by other customers but have been canceled following the delivery delays. In March, CIT Leasing, Avolon, and Air China canceled a combined six Dreamliners but it isn’t confirmed if these aircraft are the same than those purchased by Lufthansa.

Dreamliner deliveries have been paused for a year now since May 2021 following production quality issues. Although Boeing is optimistic that the FAA will approve the certification plan that has been submitted three weeks ago, there is still no date when deliveries can resume. Most contracts entitle a customer to cancel an order if a delivery is more than a year late.

With its latest order for seven, Lufthansa has now 32 Dreamliners on order. (Lufthansa)

Lufthansa is capitalizing on from this situation, just as it did when it sourced five 787-9s from Boeing in June last year on very favorable terms. These aircraft too had been canceled by other customers and offered to Lufthansa at a good discount. Spohr said last week that his airline was negotiating a discount to compensate for the late arrival of the 777-9. So expect both Lufthansa and Boeing to be most happy: the airline will get almost new Dreamliners to bridge the gap until the first 777-9 arrives, and Boeing has got rid of seven whitetails.

Lufthansa is counting on getting the first of 25 787-9s (twenty from the original order plus the five from the 2021 order) this year, but that depends on the FAA. The carrier said it has also renegotiated the delivery schedule of these aircraft, with some deliveries brought forward to 2023 and 2024 from 2025.

Order for twenty 777-9s still in the book

Despite speculation that any additional 787 orders might be detrimental to the original 777-9 order for twenty aircraft plus fourteen options, Boeing’s press release says that Lufthansa still has twenty of them on order. So there are no cancelations here. On the contrary, Lufthansa has ordered seven 777-8Fs, becoming the third airline after Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines to select the new freighter version of the 777X. First deliveries are planned for 2027 through 2030, says Lufthansa, but Boeing says “that the first delivery is anticipated in 2027.”

To meet the continued high demand in the cargo and e-commerce market, Lufthansa has also ordered two more new 777Fs. Another aircraft that has been flying with another airline will be reassigned to Lufthansa Cargo in July, while the carrier will extend lease contracts for two 777Fs beyond 2024.

“The continuous modernization of Lufthansa Group’s long-haul fleet is one of our top priorities. Therefore, we are very pleased to further invest into the newest generation of Boeing aircraft. The purchase will complement our existing orders and further reduce our operating costs, enhance fuel efficiency and provide state-of-the-art customer experiences. Moreover, the purchase highlights our commitment towards enhancing sustainable aviation,” said Detlef Kayser, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG in a media statement. Lufthansa will have its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday.  

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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