UPDATED STORY JUNE 25 – Lufthansa gets a dream deal for 787s with Boeing. It has bought five 787-9s that have been built for another customer but were canceled last year. While previously thought to have been for Norwegian, the Dreamliners actually are whitetails for HNA Group. The German flag carrier announced the follow-on order on May 3, together with an order for five extra Airbus A350-900s, but the actual number is only two.
The Lufthansa press release says: “Due to the dramatic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global aviation, aircraft that had been ordered by some airlines could not be delivered in the past twelve months. Lufthansa held talks with Boeing and found a way to buy five 787-9 that were already manufactured.” That usually means they are available at very favorable prices, hence the dream deal for 787s.
Dreamliners are already built
Looking at the Dreamliner production list, the Norwegian aircraft looked like the most obvious ones eligible to end up in either Frankfurt or Munich. Norwegian canceled a purchase agreement for five Dreamliners in June 2020 together with 92 MAX. They are Line Number 955 destined for Norwegian Air UK, 971, 983, and 1011 for Norwegian Air Sweden. The fifth aircraft for Norwegian isn’t showing on the list. The first four aircraft flew in January and February 2020, the fourth in June last year.
However, on June 24, various sources including Air Finance Journal reported that Lufthansa will get five Dreamliners that were originally destined for China’s HNA Group, including Suparna Airlines. HNA has been heavily indebted, with creditors seeking $187 billion from the once-powerful industrial conglomerate.
They have all been produced in Everett and are currently waiting for inspections of the (aft) fuselage sections to check if they have issues with skin flatness, as reported by Airinsight. Boeing CEO David Calhoun said during last Wednesday’s investor’s call that he expects most of some 100 Dreamliners that were in inventory by late March to be delivered this year.
Lufthansa will receive its first Dreamliner before the coming winter season, with others to follow in the first half of 2022. The follow-on order brings the 787-fleet to 25. When announced in March 2019, they said the aircraft were set to arrive until 2025. This might have changed, as the release states: “At the same time, the Group reached an agreement with Boeing on a restructured delivery plan.” The release also mentions the twenty 777-9s on order, but they seem to be excluded from any deferrals.
Net order for only two A350s
The Supervisory Board also approved the purchase of five additional Airbus A350-900s. They will join Lufthansa in 2027 and 2028 and bring the fleet to 48. By December 31, it had 17 in the fleet. In March 2019, it ordered twenty extra. However, in a twist to the tale, the net order will be only for two A350s. In the Airbus Orders & Deliveries list of May released on June 8, only two net orders for the A350-900 are included. The airframer has confirmed that Lufthansa has canceled three aircraft from a previous order. This brings the total number of A350s ordered by the airline to 45. A Lufthansa spokesperson says “that we do not comment further on contract details behind our agreements (from 2013/2019 and now). In the end, it will be 45 wonderful A350s delivered to LH.”
The A350s are replacing the early-retired A340s, but don’t be surprised that with their better economics they also target the replacement of the A380s. All twelve doubledeckers are in storage and unlikely to return to active service.
Lufthansa had ten options on the A350, of which five have now been converted. Deliveries of the remaining firm orders in the original batch are between 2023 and 2029.
The German airline group has scheduled to take delivery on 107 A320neo-family aircraft until 2027, with a new one arriving every month this year. They will go to Lufthansa and SWISS. Lufthansa stresses that the fleet renewal is in line with the agreement signed last year for the stabilization measures to help the airline survive. The fleet renewal was part of the conditions of the package, as new and more efficiënt aircraft will help to bring down operational and maintenance costs and reduce the carbon footprint.