DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky
April 18, 2024
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Please start here.  Having the airline CEO make these remarks about the future of the 747-8I even as it took delivery of its seventh last week is a significant message.  Boeing is in the midst of rolling out a refinement on its 747-8 – so the OEM remains committed to the program. There are also rumors of campaigns that could see more orders. But, as always, rumors in this industry are like the weather, constantly changing.

The market has spoken about the 747-8, and it has spoken softly.  The airplane has been getting good reviews from Lufthansa, the only airline flying the passenger version at present.  Indeed Lufthansa has said they find the 747-8I and A380 offer similar economic numbers.  Yet the airline slowed 747-8I deliveries even as it ordered a third tranche of A380s.

Lufthansa therefore has extraordinary impact on the VLA market.  The CEO’s latest words are important because for the first time it seems there may be a crack in the airline’s commitment to the 747-8I.  The re-orders for A380s were an unspoken message – but now we have the CEO saying the future of their commitment to the 747-8I is seeing a sunset.  It will be interesting to see if Lufthansa will take all the 747-8Is it has on order.

Most observers seem to concur that the arrival of the 777-9X will be the death knell of the 747.  Boeing has managed to develop the already impressive 777 into the benchmark 777-300ER.  Taking the design a step further to the 9X is no doubt highly attractive because new materials keep weight down, while allowing for much better economics and probably require less powerful engines.  That means a growth 777 is likely to offer what airlines want: ~400 seats with ~7,000 NM range with 15-20% lower costs.

The sunset of the 747 in passenger mode does not impact its future as a freighter. It will be some time before the 777F takes away business.  Nor does the sunset on the 747-8I impact the A380 program, in our view. The A380 at over 500 seats remains in a class of its own.  And in major O&D markets where slot constraints are standard, this airplane is the only efficient option.

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5 thoughts on “Lufthansa sends a message

  1. Observer, I think LH said two things; they place orders for A340/744 replacement soon and they are studying 748 replacement later on.

    Cabin comfort is an inherent issue with the 747. Big operators operating mixed widebody fleets have no problem selling seats in 8 abreast A330/340s, 9 abreast 777, 7 abreast 767 and 10 abreast A380, saying its the same product. Selling a seat in an A380 and putting them in a 10 abreast 747 or 777 on the way back / next time and saying its the same product doesn’t work out. A 9 abreast 747 would be fine, but I do not know a carrier doing that anymore. Also the single aisle upperdeck has become un flexible for premium seating with direct aisle access.

  2. There is absolutely no problem with 10 abreast 747. The notion that this is not the case stems from those wishing to redefine the market in favor of the A380. The fact that EK can get away with 10 abreast 777 says quite a bit on this matter, but I agree that 10 abreast 777 is pushing it too far for most carriers. 10 abreast 747 has been and remains the industry standard in economy class. Those who don’t like it can upgrade to PEY or J class seating. Airlines would, of course, welcome this.

    The 747 upper deck remains a prestigious seating area despite the increased noise levels compared to the main deck. Herringbone seating arrangements make aisle access a none issue. Most business travelers love it up there. It is second only to the exclusive seating in the nose section for first class pax.

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