German flag carrier Lufthansa has confirmed it will take delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 on December 19, 2016, but the aircraft will go into hiding in the Lufthansa Technik facility at its Munich Airport home for outfitting prior to rolling out again in the first quarter of 2017 for commercial operation on the Munich – Delhi route from February 10, 2017.
Lufthansa has confirmed it will base its first ten A350-900s at Munich and alongside the Delhi route where it will substitute for an A330-300, the type will also initially be used on flights from the Bavarian hub to Boston, USA.
Lufthansa has acquired the modern generation airliner to mainly replace its older, less-efficient, four-engined A340-600s on scheduled routes from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs. It has ordered a total of 25 A350-900s and continues to plan the deployment of the remaining 15 aircraft.
The airline currently has 26 long-haul aircraft based at Munich, comprising 19 A340-600s and seven A330-300s. The switch from the A340-600 to the A350-900 will see little change in capacity, but will result in the removal of a First Class offering. Lufthansa will configure the A350-900 in a three-class arrangement seating 293 passengers: 48 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy and 224 in Economy.
The long entry into service timetable for the aircraft at Lufthansa is being dictated by the need to fully install the cabin interior including the airline’s new Premium Economy Class offering. “Our passengers will be able to enjoy a higher level of comfort on their flights to Delhi as we have now made further improvements to key components of the A350-900’s cabin interior,” said Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive officer of Lufthansa’s Munich hub
“This includes, among other things, a newly designed self-service area in Business Class, new seats with ergonomically designed cushions in Economy Class, larger screens in all classes and improved broadband internet services”, he added.
The main growth area for Lufthansa’s long-haul network from Munich this decade has been in North America – flights have been resumed to both Denver and Miami, while new links have been established to the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver.
Analysis of schedules data from intelligence provider OAG shows overall capacity to North America has risen 12.2 percent this year with double-digit year-on-year growth in the Vancouver (up 34.4 percent), Toronto (up 20.7 percent) and Washington (up 15.8 percent) markets for this year (versus 2015). This year’s North American programme was Lufthansa largest, but is scheduled to grow a further 7.4 percent in 2017, based on published schedules, with capacity rises in nine of the 13 markets it serves.
Elsewhere this decade, in Latin America, Mexico City joined Sao Paulo in the carrier’s Munich long-haul network from 2014, while in the Middle East, Tehran, Iran joined Lufthansa’s network this year, as well as Cape Town in Africa from 2012. Tokyo Haneda has been Lufthansa’s only new long-haul Asian destination from Munich, albeit this was simply a result of the switch of its existing Tokyo service to Narita International Airport.
However, this growth has been offset by cuts to the airline’s Asian network from Munich. In the last ten years flights to Bangkok, Singapore and Tashkent have all been suspended. This year the airline has also closed two further of its long-haul routes ending flights to Dubai in the spring and last month suspending its daily link to Sao Paulo.