Lufthansa Makes Big Equipment Changes For Their 2020 Winter Schedule, Focuses on Airbus A350-900

Lufthansa is currently working again on their winter schedule and has tweeted about upcoming equipment changes, replacing the Boeing 747-800 with the Airbus A350 on key routes.

This also means that the airline will no longer offer First Class following the equipment change as the A350 offers only Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class.

Lufthansa’s winter schedule ends late March 2021 and the airline hopes that demand will pick up again until then, hopes that so far haven’t materialized as they are currently running a 30% load factor after expecting to be back up to 80% based on estimates from just 1-2 months ago.

Lufthansa has massively reduced their capacity and is subsequently also in the process of letting staff go in all areas of their operations, even going so far as to stopping the training of new pilots except for those that are in the final stages of their training and licensing.

According to the press release referenced by the Twitter post above Lufthansa decided to utilize the A350’s that were previously parked at Munich airport and move them to Frankfurt as a replacement for the Boeing 747-800 and Airbus A340-300.

The A350-900 will serve Chicago and Los Angeles from Frankfurt which means these destinations will no longer have a First Class and should you have a First ticket on these routes you can expect a call from Lufthansa soon (in the best case) and a downgrade. It would be worthwhile to explore re-booking options such as on SWISS via Zurich to keep the First Class.

You can access the press release here in the Lufthansa Newsroom.

For the duration of the winter timetable (until the end of March 2021) Lufthansa will be deploying four of the currently parked Airbus A350-900s to its hub in Frankfurt. The Airbus A350-900 is one of the most modern and environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft in the world.

Over the next few months the A350-900 will be serving Chicago and Los Angeles from Frankfurt, by temporarily replacing the Boeing 747-8 for this period of time. From December onwards, the ultra-modern A350-900 will also be flying from Frankfurt on the route to Tokyo/Haneda instead of the Airbus A340-300. All flights will be operated by Munich-based cabin and cockpit crews.

The A350-900 not only offers Lufthansa customers a top product on board, it is also extremely environmentally friendly, efficient and quiet. Compared to a Boeing 747-8, the Airbus A350-900 consumes around 12 percent less fuel and emits less CO2. At the same time by operating the A350-900 in Frankfurt, the fleet will be optimally used in an efficient and sustainable way under the current circumstances.

Lufthansa’s A350-900 fleet currently encompasses 16 Munich- based aircraft. Due to the sharp reduction in the number of flights offered as a result of the corona pandemic, only seven A350-900s will initially be operated at Munich in the winter timetable of 20/21 on routes to North America and Asia.

I do like traveling on the A350 regardless of the operating airline as it’s really a very comfortable aircraft to fly on as a passenger. Those who hold First Class tickets on affected routes won’t be happy with these changes.

The First Class Terminal in Frankfurt remains closed as well while the First Class Lounge in the A Concourse of Terminal 1 is accepting passenger traffic.

As far as fleet planning is concerned, Lufthansa has also permanently parked all of their A380’s and it’s a big question mark if they will ever return to regular service.

Conclusion

It’s a sad state of affairs what’s going on with aviation right now, a situation mainly caused by lack of demand as a result of all the international travel bans. I’m convinced once these bans disappear then demand for airlines will pick up again quickly but until then airlines have to react and become more  efficient or it’s their death sentence. The industry has already seen quite a few casualties in the aviation segment.

The A350-900 has a decent, though not stellar Business Class product (pretty much the same as any other Lufthansa aircraft) but the main comfort comes because the aircraft is just more quiet in the cabin. If you have upcoming flights with Lufthansa this winter season I suggest to keep a permanent eye on the schedule and if someone changed to contact them proactively. In case of downgrades they might be able to move you to SWISS in case such a flight is available on the respective routes.