Fleet structure to be further optimised

At the end of 2023, the Lufthansa Group fleet comprised 721 aircraft (previous year: 710 aircraft). The average age of the aircraft in the fleet was 13.4 years (previous year: 13.1 years).

The fleet expanded year-on-year by 11 aircraft. A total of 29 new aircraft were added to the fleet, compared with 18 retirements. The new additions comprised 24 new aircraft (three Boeing 787-9s, two Airbus A350-900s, seven Airbus A321neos, eleven A320neos and one Boeing 777F) and five used aircraft (three A350-900s bought and two A321P2Fs leased). The five additional A350-900s were not yet ready for service at year-end 2023, however. On the other hand, nine older, comparatively inefficient aircraft were sold in 2023 (three A321s, two A320s and four A330s) and the lease agreements for three aircraft were ended. Six Airbus A380s were also sold back to Airbus in line with the contractual agreement from 2019. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, i.e. since year-end 2019, 128 aircraft have been retired. In the same period, 86 aircraft have been added.

In addition, twelve short- and medium-haul aircraft were sold and leased back in the reporting year. The aircraft are up to two years old and are operated by Lufthansa Airlines, Lufthansa CityLine and Eurowings.

On long-haul routes, six A380s were reactivated from long-term parking mode in the reporting year. The Company was responding to strong demand and countering delays in delivering ordered aircraft due to numerous problems at the manufacturers with production, supply chains and certification. Of the six A380s, four have already started flight operations at Munich Airport and two A380s are being prepared for flight operations. Two further A380s are to be reactivated by 2025.

The airlines in the Lufthansa Group operated 47 aircraft on the basis of wet leases in the reporting year. The reason for this was, in particular, to make up for delayed aircraft deliveries and expand capacities in the busy summer months.

Ongoing fleet modernisation improves the offering for passengers as well as cost efficiency and reduces emissions

The Lufthansa Group has made important decisions in recent years in relation to the ongoing modernisation of its fleet. In particular, this entails the retirement of larger four-engine aircraft, which are less fuel-efficient. At the same time, the Group is exploiting market opportunities in order to move forward with fleet modernisation and to purchase modern aircraft at short notice and attractive conditions.

The Lufthansa Group expanded its existing aircraft orders in the reporting year and ordered another seven 787-9s and 15 aircraft from the A350 family (ten A350-1000s and five A350-900s). The procurement of these 22 ultramodern long-haul aircraft will result in a further lasting improvement in the fleet’s efficiency. The aircraft have up to 30 % lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions compared with their direct predecessor models. They therefore make an important contribution to the ongoing development of the long-haul fleet, lower operating costs, reduced fleet range and more sustainable flying.

In addition, the Lufthansa Group ordered a total of 80 ultramodern short- and medium-haul aircraft at the end of 2023. These were 40 Airbus A220-300s and 40 Boeing 737-8 MAXs. The aircraft are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2032. Purchase options were also agreed for another 20 A220-300s, 60 B737-8 MAXs and 40 aircraft from the A320neo family.

At year-end 2023, there were 253 aircraft on the Lufthansa Group’s order list. There are also options to buy a further 161 aircraft. New aircraft are allocated centrally to the respective airline fleets shortly before delivery.

Long-haul fleet      
Airbus A350 42 2024 to 2031  
Boeing 787 34 2024 to 2028 13
Boeing 777 20 2025 to 2028 24
Boeing 777F 8 2024 to 2030  
Short-haul fleet      
Airbus A220 40 2026 to 2031 24
Airbus A320neo 46 2024 to 2028 40
Airbus A321neo 23 2024 to 2028  
Boeing 737 40 2027 to 2032 60
Total aircraft 253 2024 to 2032 161
1) Excluding contracted leases.
Flexible fleet planning enables adaptation to market developments

The Lufthansa Group is expecting the delivery of at least 30 aircraft in financial year 2024, including short-haul aircraft from the A320neo family, long-haul A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft, and one Boeing 777F cargo aircraft. The new seats from the Allegris generation are expected to be introduced for the first time in the A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft. Some of these aircraft will probably be procured through leases. In line with the planning, seven aircraft are to be sold or their leases ended in 2024. This planning is monitored continuously. The Group can modify the capacity on offer by extending or shortening temporary decommissioning, delaying or bringing forward planned retirements and by taking out wet leases to match stronger or weaker than planned demand.

Potential material defects in components of the PW1000G engine family mean that the parts concerned will be inspected in the short term for safety reasons. An average of around 20 aircraft in the Lufthansa Group will therefore not be available for service in 2024. The aircraft concerned are A320neo and A321neo models, as well as some replacement engines. A total of 64 aircraft in the Lufthansa Group are affected. The intention is to mitigate the effects on capacity by acquiring additional replacement engines, extending the useful life of existing aircraft and additional wet leases. The Group is in negotiations with the manufacturer of the engine concerned to obtain compensation for the financial impact.

Long-term fleet strategy aims to standardise and reduce aircraft models

Aircraft from Airbus and Boeing make up the majority of the Lufthansa Group fleet. Aircraft from Bombardier and Embraer are also deployed on short-haul routes.

As part of the long-term fleet strategy, the number of aircraft models operated on long-haul routes is continuously being lowered to reduce complexity further throughout the Group. The orders placed in the years 2019 to 2023 for a total of 34 A350-900s (including four used aircraft), ten new A350-1000s and 39 new 787-9s, along with leases for another six A350-900s, form the basis for the structural modernisation and optimisation of the long-haul fleet.

The complete retirement of the aircraft types 747-400, 777-200ER, A340-600, A340-300, A330-200 and 767-300ER is offset by the introduction of the new A350-1000s, 787-9s and 777-9s. The Group expects significant cost savings from these measures, especially in the areas of crew training, maintenance and operations.

Group-wide engine management realises synergies

The Lufthansa Group has introduced engine management throughout the Group in order to achieve synergies in the engine business too. The intention is to increase the number of usable flight hours per engine (green time) and to benefit from the joint use of replacement engines and the joint purchase of MRO services for all Group airlines.

The Lufthansa Group continues to own a significant share of the fleet

Overall, 89% (previous year: 90%) of the total fleet is owned in economic terms by the Lufthansa Group, and 11% (previous year: 10%) is leased. More than 85% (previous year: 84%) of the owned fleet is unencumbered, i.e. not used as collateral under financing arrangements.

The owned aircraft provide a high degree of operational flexibility. In order to respond flexibly to fluctuations in demand and adjust capacity at short notice, depreciated aircraft can at short notice remain in service for longer or be retired before their planned phase-out. The aircraft can also be used as collateral in financing activities. In contrast, leases enable a quicker response to market and technological changes. They also reduce capital usage when compared with purchasing new aircraft. The Group intends to expand the proportion of its fleet which is leased in the medium to long-term. 
↗ Financial strategy and value-based management

Lufthansa Group Annual Report 2023