It is considered a technical masterpiece and is popular with passengers and pilots alike for its smooth flight characteristics: the Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world. In the course of the corona pandemic, when the number of passengers dropped dramatically worldwide, there was no longer any room for the A380 in the plans of the major international airlines. The giant aircraft also disappeared from operational business at Lufthansa. Since then, the planes have been parked in so-called “deep storage” at lonely airfields in Spain and France to – more or less – wait for the end of their days. Because Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr had repeatedly emphasized: The A380 is not coming back at Lufthansa.
Roll backwards: Airbus A380 is making a comeback at Lufthansa
Spohr thus drove a different strategy than his manager colleagues from British Airways, Singapore Airlines or the Australian Qantas. The A380 has been in use there again for a few weeks to provide relief on routes that are in high demand. British Airways uses the jet to destinations including Miami and Washington. Qantas not only flies the large-capacity jet with two continuous floors to Los Angeles, but also to London again for a few days. At Singapore Airlines, among other things, an A380 connection via Frankfurt to New York was reactivated.
But now Lufthansa has also recognized that the “Superjumbo” could help to serve the rapidly increasing demand on certain routes. Because in the configuration chosen by Germany’s largest airline, no fewer than 509 passengers can be accommodated in the 73 meter long and 24 meter high wide-bodied aircraft. Plenty of space for people who want to travel on to destinations in the USA, for example, via the North American hubs.
In an open letter from the Lufthansa Executive Board, it says literally about the forthcoming A380 comeback: “We have decided to put this aircraft, which is still very popular, into operation at Lufthansa again in 2023.” However, there is not a word in the letter about what specifically led to a rethinking of the corporate strategy.
Lufthansa can still use eight A380s
The fact is: 14 Airbus A380s are currently still part of the Lufthansa fleet. However, six of these aircraft have already been sold – back to manufacturer Airbus. That leaves eight A380s that will fly around the world for Lufthansa again next year. It is not yet clear which routes will be used. However, it is likely to be North Atlantic connections to the USA, among other things. For example to Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
In the meantime, however, it also seems clear that the chaos in air traffic, which can be observed at many airports in Europe these days, cannot be eliminated so quickly. “In the next few weeks, with the number of passengers continuing to rise, whether on vacation or business trips, the situation will hardly improve in the short term,” the Lufthansa Executive Board letter continues.
Not only at the airports, but also at Lufthansa itself there is a lack of personnel and the necessary resources in some areas. The airline had therefore recently canceled 900 flights for July from its flight plan. Last week another 2,200 connections were added in July and August. Not only domestic German connections were affected, but also flights in Europe and intercontinental traffic.
Lufthansa is no longer a five-star airline
And that’s not the only bad news that’s hitting Lufthansa these days. The fact that the crane airline is no longer allowed to use the 5-star award from the rating agency Skytrax should also cause dissatisfaction at the top of the group.
The rating company downgraded Lufthansa to a 4-star airline after five years. It is punishing the aviation group for various savings measures that have been implemented in recent years. For Skytrax at Lufthansa, only a few services in First Class can currently be classified at 5-star level. In the business, premium economy and economy class, on the other hand, Lufthansa has to swallow some severe devaluations.
The Skytrax rating is intended to provide information on what travel comfort and what quality of service can be expected on board airlines. Lufthansa was the first European airline ever to be awarded five stars by Skytrax. Currently, only Asian airlines are allowed to adorn themselves with a 5-star rating. In detail, these are ANA (Japan), Asiana (South Korea), Cathay Pacific (China/Hong Kong), EVA Air (Taiwan), Garuda (Indonesia), Hainan Airlines (China), Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines .
Service primarily in Economy Class only average
According to consistent media reports, Lufthansa reacted defiantly to the loss of the fifth Skytrax star. One remains a premium airline, can be heard from the group’s headquarters. Many customers are likely to see things differently, not only because of the numerous flights currently being canceled. Lufthansa has also lost a lot of its reputation in terms of service, with the elimination of free snacks and drinks in economy class.
An even bigger problem is the poor accessibility of the airline. Extremely long waiting times on the hotline have repeatedly caused frustration among many Lufthansa passengers in recent months. There is currently no improvement in sight due to the numerous flights canceled by Lufthansa and the associated increase in the number of calls.
But maybe it’s worth having a little more patience. Because in the coming years Lufthansa would like to start a service offensive with many new aircraft. In the next three years alone, around 50 new Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777-9 long-haul jets will join the fleet. There are also more than 60 new Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 aircraft for European traffic.