Lufthansa is in discussion with Boeing on how to bridge the gap in capacity, now that delivery of the first 777-9 has been delayed to 2025. The German airline looks at various options, including the sourcing of more new 787s or used aircraft that are available on the market, CEO Carsten Spohr said on May 5 during the Q1 results earnings call. Lufthansa considers options to substitute delayed Boeing 777-9s.

Lufthansa has twenty 777-9s on firm order with fourteen options. It has been preparing for its entry into service for some years, but deliveries have been constantly delayed. The first aircraft was originally scheduled for 2021, but then Boeing deferred this to late 2023/early 2024. On April 27, it said that certification will take longer and result in another delay to late 2024, with the first deliveries now slated for 2025. This leaves Lufthansa with a gap in capacity, and not just the German carrier.   

“We are talking to Boeing right these days to see how they can help us with other aircraft. This could be used aircraft, which are also welcome to us”, said Spohr. He said that part of the discussions is getting new aircraft at a discount price to compensate for the delays of the 777-9s. “We will discuss how we should be compensated.” Spohr didn’t answer the question of whether Lufthansa is considering to reducing its 777-9 order.

Another option is to look at aircraft within Lufthansa Group. “We can look at what we still have around and that we could use to fill capacity in 2024 and 2025, assuming that we won’t have the 777-X then. We could use the A340-330 or maybe the -600. And before I am asked the question about the A380: our position hasn’t changed. But to be honest, if demand recovers very strongly, we could reconsider bringing some of them back, then I would be the happiest man in the world, but I wouldn’t count on that option.”

Lufthansa has embraced the Philippine Airlines Business Case product on the four leased Airbus A350s that previously flew with PA. (Lufthansa)

Lufthansa has 25 Boeing 787s on order, including twenty from its original order in 2019 and five additional aircraft that the carrier was able to source on favorable terms in June 2021. First deliveries of the Dreamliner have been delayed too as Boeing is still waiting to get approval from the FAA to resume deliveries. These were paused in May 2021 following production quality issues. Spohr said he is counting on Boeing to deliver the first 787-9 this summer, in line with expectations that the FAA will soon approve the certification plan that Boeing sent to the regulator a few weeks ago.

The carrier introduced the first of four leased ex-Philippine Airlines Airbus A350-900s to the fleet just last week. They have an updated Business Class product that borrows from the one used by Philippine Airlines. Next year, Lufthansa will introduce new products in all four classes. The 787s will have an interim product with many similarities to that of the leased A350s.

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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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