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Wednesday airline updates: Lufthansa drastically shrinks fleet

written by Dylan Nicholson | April 8, 2020

Lufthansa will decommission 32 aircraft in its fleet immediately, including six A380s, seven A340-600s, three A340-300s, five 747-400s, and 11 A320s.

The sudden cost-cutting measure comes as the airline said it expects the recovery from the current coronavirus crisis to be slow.

The business is also planning to shut down its Germanwings subsidiary. Eurowings will also see broad reductions in capacity and phasing out of aircraft. The decision is designed to phase out less efficient aircraft quicker than planned.

A Lufthansa Airbus A380. (Rob Finlayson)
A Lufthansa Airbus A380. (Rob Finlayson)

Lufthansa was planning to phase out the long-haul A380’s by 2022 but has brought that forward.

As the demand for long-distance travel slows, it says, it makes sense to phase out old, large aircraft, which are more expensive and less environmentally friendly.

The airline is also going to phase out some of its older A320s to make way for the newer A320neo and A321s.

The cuts represent around 10 per cent of its fleet and target the long haul and leisure operations.


This marks the airlines first permanent cut as Lufthansa looks to operate as a smaller airline into the future as the large group scales down.

The greater Lufthansa group includes a number of significant airlines such as SWISS, Brussels, Eurowings and Austrian. All these airlines have seen a reduction in capacity and could also see a reduction in fleet sizes in line with the group’s vision for the post-virus world.

In other airline news:

  • United Airlines has waived change fees for all 2020 travel. This means passengers can alter reservations on flights departing through the end of the year without incurring additional fees.
  • Air New Zealand is to make nearly 400 of its pilots redundant. The decision comes as the airline puts into place downsizing strategies in order to survive the aviation crisis. This downsizing includes making approximately 30 per cent of Air New Zealand’s workforce redundant. These pilots look set to be a part of that cohort.
  • Etihad Airways has announced in a press release its plans to operate additional special repatriation flights. Etihad has already operated special flights to Australia, the US and Russia to help evacuate foreigners stuck in the UAE and also to bring its own citizens home.
  • airBaltic has revealed its plans to relaunch after the COVID-19 crisis in an open letter from its CEO, stating, “Once the restrictions are lifted, we intend to start our operations with only five Airbus A220-300 aircraft. We then plan to gradually add one aircraft per week as demand returns.”
  • Jambojet, the low-cost subsidiary of Kenya Airways, has announced that it will halt all domestic operations. The suspension is planned to last until the end of the month.


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