Lufthansa to take first class off ~20% of their longhaul aircraft

Via Bloomberg, Lufthansa has announced that in the next two years they’ll be eliminating first class on an additional ~20% of their longhaul fleet. Currently they have first class on 94 of their 100 longhaul aircraft, which is just about the highest percentage of aircraft with first class of any airline. However, by the end of next year they plan on bringing that number down to 75 aircraft, as they take first class off ~19 aircraft.

This doesn’t really come as a surprise since it has been rumored for a while, though this is the first official announcement I’ve seen of the timeline. As I made reference to in this post about Lufthansa’s new first and business class retrofits, there are six 747s on which Lufthansa has yet to install the new first class product, and I suspect those are the ones on which first class will be eliminated as they do the retrofit with the new business class. The rest of the first class cuts will come at the expense of the A340-300, many of which will be retrofitted with the new business class while first class will be eliminated (some A340-300s already don’t feature first class).

So based on the article it seems like Vancouver will be one of the destinations that will lose first class, though they already don’t have first class for most of the year. Interestingly in the article they claim the most profitable routes for first class include Frankfurt to Kuwait, Johannesburg, Riyadh and Miami.

By the way, I don’t think it’s any mystery which routes are likely to lose first class. The award availability in first class on the below routes in the next week speaks for itself:

So I don’t see this as a major change since 75% of their longhaul fleet will still feature first class. That being said, many of the routes that were near guarantees for first class award availability won’t have first class anymore, so that will add pressure to other routes, making first class awards even tougher to come by.

Comments

  1. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    Do you think DEN-FRA is on the chopping block too? If so, plus losing YVR and SEA it will be harder from SFO to find F availability, no?

    Thanks.

  2. eponymous coward says

    So that means LH will be switching those routes to A343s? I have to wonder about that- that has to add some fuel costs.

    FWIW, the A343s without F is in a 4C/222Y config (266 seats total). An LH 333 is in 8F/48C/165Y (221). Even if you figure they’ll lose some seats for Y+, you’re probably adding seats to the market (adding supply=decreasing prices), AND increasing fuel costs (4 engines to feed instead of two). So I suspect that the 343s will go to markets where there’s higher C/Y demand than what a 333 can deliver (and thus worthy of the four engines :)), but not a lot of F demand.

    I have to wonder why LH doesn’t have an C/Y subfleet of their A333s for SEA/DTW/ATL/DUS, though…

  3. Andre says

    The FT thread about new F actually talks that some 744s that aren’t being converted or retiring are losing F. So while this makes it more official this was more or less known.

    It’s actually good news that they’re keeping so much!

  4. lsed says

    Not surprised about JNB. Flew it a few weeks back and it was 8/8.
    MIA kinda surprised me as as it doesn’t sound like a route that would be as profitable as JFK.

    Flights to SIN are also usually quite full in F most of the time. More so than to HKG / KIX / NRT. However its sad they dropped MUC – SIN.

  5. InsaneTravel says

    My wife and I just flew Lufthansa YUL-MUC and back and we were the only ones in the First Class cabin on both legs.

    This was an incredible exclusive experience but gives us an idea of the lack of demand for First from Canada.

  6. snic says

    I suspect that the average number of paid first class passengers on a LH flight is less than 1. So, if there happens to be an extremely wealthy person who lives in Miami and has to go to Germany a lot, that could tip the balance. As soon as he moves to Montreal, LH will notice that F class revenue has shifted to the YUL-FRA route.

  7. Nic says

    I think ATL doesn’t get F year round. Don’t they use A343 most of the time?
    I think we get F on the low season ;)

  8. lucky says

    @ Dan — I wouldn’t be surprised to see DEN cut as one of the destinations with first class.

    @ eponymous coward — The fuselage of the A333 and A343 are identical. The only difference is the amount of cargo/weight they can carry. At the end of the day I don’t think filling extra coach seats is that difficult. The challenge is finding passengers willing to pay decent premium cabin fares.

    @ Troy — It’s a major Star Alliance hub so I think so.

    @ snic — I know Germans like the sun, but surprised me as well since there’s virtually no Star Alliance presence there.

  9. Shanghai9 says

    You mentioned in your earlier post about LH/F that only one 747-4 does not have the new F, whereas here you state that 6 don’t. What am I missing?

  10. Jorge says

    Miami to FRA is one single direct flight a day. Lots of rich South Americans connecting to FRA, plus a sizeable and wealthy Russian community. Not to mention the amount of $$$ retirees in the PBI/FLL/MIA area.

    No wonder I never find anything on that flight ( not even business). And we are talking an A380!

  11. concorde02 says

    One route I found it very hard for award seats in F is LAX-FRA on the new 747-8, since they introduced 747-8 on the route, I only saw a few F seat open up (over 2.5 months), seem to be less than other routes in North American cities. I figured this flight should make money in F too?

    As for flights that F will be cut, big talk among LH employee is BKK so it’s pretty sure. Also I would think NGO, KIX, NKG in Far east…

  12. lucky says

    @ concorde02 — Tend to agree, I imagine LAX to FRA is one of their more profitable flights up front as it’s almost always sold out and awards are tough to come by.

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