Lufthansa Announces Which Frankfurt Routes Are Losing The A380

Last week I wrote about how Lufthansa is moving five A380s from their mega-hub in Frankfurt to their secondary hub in Munich. This is a big step for the airline. Five A380s is a small fleet and a considerable investment in Munich Airport.

Me pictured with the CEO of Munich Airport.

The A380 will operate daily flights from Munich to Hong Kong, Beijing and Los Angeles. I asked which routes you thought would lose A380 service as a consequence of this, and many responded with Delhi. Well, Lufthansa just updated their summer 2018 schedule, which shows several changes from Frankfurt. Namely, Hong Kong, Beijing, Los Angeles, and even Seoul will all lose A380 service, as the first three are transferred to Munich.

I’m quite surprised by this announcement. Los Angeles is a flagship route for Lufthansa and eliminating A380 service from their main hub is a shame. In the summer, Lufthansa operates this route twice daily, but I’m curious to see what happens in the winter schedule. Instead, these flights will be served by A340-600s from Frankfurt.

On the other hand, I can see why Lufthansa would make this change. Firstly, they have a stunning, newly build satellite terminal in Munich, which is currently operating under capacity.

In addition, I would imagine they’ve analyzed their top connecting cities onto these A380 destinations, and decided they’re in a better position offering these routes from Munich. Since their operations aren’t as large there, connecting should be easier and faster. During peak hours of 10:00am and 5:00pm, Frankfurt tends to be quite the zoo, so a reduction of ~ 800 seats per day should help to slightly alleviate that pressure.

Overall, this means there won’t be more capacity to any of these destinations. The A340-600s that served these routes will move to Frankfurt and vice versa. I tend to think it’s harder to find award availability through Munich than Frankfurt since most short-haul flights are served by smaller aircraft though.

What do you make of this change? Will you be affected by the elimination of A380 service to these destinations from Frankfurt?

Comments

  1. It’s interesting that LH is formally announcing that it will take the A380 off the FRA-ICN route.

    However, as a practical matter, LH has been flying 744s to Seoul going back to at least January of this year (and probably earlier). I fly on the route for business a couple of times per year, and last had the A380 in May 2016. In March of this year I flew on the 744 r/t. I was disappointed by the downgrade at that point, and when I looked the 744 was scheduled through EOS, and appeared to have been flying on the route already for some time.

  2. Isn’t this because of high landing costs in FRA mostly? Seems logical to move some capacity to MUC as well.

  3. “I asked which routes you thought would lose A380 service as a consequence of this, and many responded with Delhi.”

    Anyone saying DEL or BOM really doesn’t understand LH – other than ME3, LH is pretty much the most prestigious carrier for Indians heading for Europe and the Americas. Flying SFO-FRA-BLR in the front cabin is a like a “who’s who” of the tech giants.

    Regarding MUC-HKG, it’s kind of a shot-across-the-bow against CX that most likely has MUC on their shortlist after the success of DUS, even though they’re newly minted code-share partners (without a JV in place). The added bonus of keeping SQ happy is simply icing on the cake.

  4. The A380 was designed with big cities in mind and India and China have the big cities. So no A380 is going to get removed from India unless its a ridiculous premium heavy configuration (cough etihad) which only gets filled up with award travellers.
    In fact now that China is building its own jetliners, EADS should commit to manufacturing the A380 in India to capture the Indian market if they want the A380 to have a future.

  5. People really do not understand the Indian market, and jump to conclusions! Indian market is huge both for economy and premium. Lufthansa operates three daily VLAs, and four daily wide bodies into India. The only problem I would see is super high competition LH would face for connecting to USA, which draws the prices down. That could either mean pulling out of the market or sending VLAs to reduce cost per seat! And that is what LH does. The only reason for them to stop using A380 would be if they have another city which they are making higher profits on.

  6. I wonder what that’ll do to F award redemptions on the HKG route. HKG-FRA-HKG is often much harder to find on redemption within T-14, while HKG-MUC-HKG is often much easier to redeem.

  7. LH is actually one of the most well positioned airlines and set for future growth with an Indian market context. They have invested heavily in branding and localizing the brand experience. While SQ is approaching India with a different dimension, LH is actually able to extract low hanging (but, from a well invested strategy) today and in the near-medium future.

    I believe LH will deploy frequency from FRA, especially on Trans-Atlantic, and Asian routes, with FRA growing in importance in a Brexit world. And MUC connectivity with LAX, HK and other markets can also do with the leisure market closer to MUC (like Italy!!) which is huge, especially from China & growing from India.

  8. @Frank …. my thought, too. If fact, the first thing I noticed when opening this mail. But then, isn’t this the guy who jumped line? Someone still needs to grow up.

  9. the reason for the chance is because lufthansa is really unhappy with FRAPORT they just added Ryanair to the international airport and ryanair is getting big, big, big discounts for using the airport for european flights. Lufthansa claims that they will damage their business if they has to pay in full to use the airport and ryanair can use it for just a partial of the costs. So lufthansa move a part of their fleet to Munich.

  10. @ Frank @ Kevin @ Fredrik I know – it’s horrible. My grandma almost screamed when she saw it. I was in the middle of a leisure trip and this happened on short notice. Trust that I’m normally more prepared 😉

  11. Taking the A380 off the Seoul route makes sense. I’m flying between ICN and FRA on Asiana in a couple of weeks and OZ also uses the A380 on that route. Korean Air also flies to Frankfurt, although I don’t know what aircraft they use. Still, that was two A380’s plus another widebody operating between Seoul and Frankfurt.

  12. As others stated, it is all part of a cost dispute between LH and FRA airport. There are even rumors that they consider moving some of their 748 operations to ZRH … Now, this does not mean that MUC and ZRH are off the hook. Both also experienced significant pressure from LH at some time … I think LH realized that having four hubs (FRA, MUC, ZRH, VIE) in relatively short distance allows them to flex the muscles.

  13. Not surprised of LAX being dropped. In addition to reasons stated above tourism is significantly down since last September (at least -20%)…
    Personally I much prefer to transit through MUC than FRA

  14. I dont understand the big deal…their just switching planes right? The route isnt being dropped…is the new place worse than the A380?

  15. I’m surprised, since Lufthansa goes double daily to LAX on the A380 and 748 during the summer season, and doesn’t even have yearly daily flights to MUC.

    In my experience, I’ve transferred at both, and I vowed to never transfer at FRA again. Unfortunately, going from Northern Europe to LAX, going all the way down to MUC is just too far out of the way to make it a preferred route.

    @EvilDrWally I don’t think it’s tourism down that’s a big problem for Lufthansa, I moreso think it’s the rising competition for flights to Europe from the US west coast (specifically on Star Alliance). The addition of SAS, LOT, Austrian to LAX can’t have helped LH.

  16. I like what he’s wearing even without the belt. You fellas fashion gurus then? More like Harry high pants I’d say.

  17. Personally I thought IAH was gonna be the one to get cut from A380 services but I guess not! How’s the load factor on that route, anyone got any ideas?

  18. 1. The idea that moving 5 A380’s to MUC was meant more as a “signal” to Fraport is gaining currency with both LH Staff/Crew as it is with frequent flyers on LH. I do believe LH is beside themselves about the Ryanair deal.
    2. You look just fine without the belt!
    3. No doubt that India is a major focus for LH and they do a great job promoting it and earning loyalty. That said the FRA/BLR flight is not an A380 so the argument appears irrelevant. LH regularly flies the 748 on that sector and the front cabin is invariably full. However, the DEL/FRA route does NOT fly full in the front cabin and the only “Titans” one is likely to meet on that sector are pols or diplomats! Not as sexy.
    4. If load factors increase for LH they are better served with increasing frequencies than with larger aircraft with a heavy premium config. Apart from BOM and BLR there is little F traffic on LH outbound from India.

  19. Blr-Fra is full in the front cabins not because of demand in F or J. Lufthansa heavily overbooks in economy and bumps up single travellers with unassigned seats. We have travelled twice on the blr-fra route in J and both times the person seated next to us was bumped up from economy due to overbooking.

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