Lufthansa $19 billion order launches Boeing 777-9X. Carrier also orders 25 Airbus A350-900

German carrier also orders 25 Airbus A350-900 XWBs

by Devesh Agarwal

The Supervisory Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, at its meeting yesterday, has approved the purchase of 59 ultra-modern aircraft for the Group, comprising of 34 Boeing 777-9Xs and 25 Airbus A350-900s worth EUR 14 billion (approx $19 billion) at list prices, the largest ever jet order.

Computer generated image of Boeing 777-9X in Lufthansa livery
Computer generated image of Boeing 777-9X in Lufthansa livery

This order confirms indications made by the airline in March, it would finalise an order for its wide-body long range aircraft below the VLA (Very Large Aircraft) size, by the fourth quarter of this year. Lufthansa is currently the only airline to operate the passenger VLAs from both airframers, i.e. Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8i.

Computer generated image of Airbus A350-900 XWB in Lufthansa livery
Computer generated image of Airbus A350-900 XWB in Lufthansa livery

The incoming aircraft from this order, which will commence delivery in 2016 with the A350, will replace the older 22 Boeing 747-400s and approximately 24 Airbus A340-300s which will be phased out by 2025. The Boeing 777-9X is expected to enter service by the end of the decade.

The 59 new aircraft will consume an average of just 2.9 litres of fuel per passenger and 100 kilometres flown. That is around 25 per cent less than aircraft available today and it will have a positive impact on the Group’s carbon footprint. Unit costs will sink by approximately 20 per cent compared with predecessor models.

The new aircraft will be operated by ultra-modern, powerful, low-noise engines – the Airbus A350 by the Rolls-Royce ‘Trent XWB 84’ engine and the Boeing 777-9X by General Electric’s ‘GE-9X’ model. The noise footprint of the new models will be at least 30 per cent lower than today’s aircraft.

Lufthansa’s launch commitment to the 777-9X is not unexpected. As Nico Buchholz, Executive Vice President and Head of Fleet, Lufthansa says

“Boeing and Lufthansa share more than 50 years of partnership and innovation and a tradition of launching new airplane models – starting with the original 737s and most recently, the efficient 747-8 Intercontinental,” “Lufthansa is demonstrating its legacy of innovation and market leadership again with its selection of the 777X. We look forward to many years of partnership with Boeing, as we make air travel more efficient, comfortable and environmentally sustainable with airplanes such as the 777X.”

In a release Airbus S.A.S. said

The Supervisory board of Lufthansa, Airbus’ biggest airline customer and operator, has decided to expand and modernise its long-haul fleet with a commitment for up to 55 A350-900 aircraft (25 firm and 30 options). Lufthansa also has the flexibility to convert some of the order to the larger A350-1000.

This landmark A350 order comes just six months after Lufthansa made the strategic decision to become an all-Airbus operator for its single-aisle fleet. So far in 2013, Airbus has won more firm orders from Lufthansa (125) in a single year than ever before. Taking all commitments (firm and options) into account the figure rises to 232 aircraft – one more than the 231 Airbus aircraft currently in operation with the Lufthansa Airline.

Lufthansa’s decision today underpins the Group’s status as Airbus’ largest airline customer and operator, with to date 535 aircraft ordered and 397 currently in operation within the Group. The latter include: 282 A320 Family, 42 A330s, 63 A340s, and 10 A380s. Lufthansa has recently announced an order for 100 A320 Family aircraft to switch its Single-Aisle Fleet in the 150-230 size category entirely to Airbus.

Boeing in its release said

Boeing [NYSE:BA] welcomes Lufthansa’s selection of the 777-9X for its future long-haul fleet.

The launch of the 777X family is targeted for later this year and entry into service around the end of the decade.

Earlier this year, the Lufthansa Group ordered six 777-300ERs for the fleet of Swiss International Airlines. Boeing will deliver the first of Lufthansa Cargo’s five new 777 Freighters later this year.

Lufthansa today operates 93 Boeing airplanes within its group fleets.

In its release GE Aviation said

GE Aviation is excited with Lufthansa’s decision today to select GE9X-powered Boeing 777-9X aircraft. The engines for the 34 aircraft announced by Lufthansa are valued at more than $2.5 billion USD list price. This is the first selection for the new GE9X, which is part of the highly successful GE90 engine family.

The GE9X engine for Boeing’s 777X aircraft will be in the 100,000 pounds thrust class with a 10 percent improvement in fuel burn over today’s GE90-115B. Key features include: a 132″ fan diameter; composite fan case and fourth-generation composite fan blades; next-generation 27:1 pressure ratio high-pressure compressor; a third-generation TAPS (twin annular pre-swirl) combustor for greater efficiency and low emissions; and ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material in the combustor and turbine.

Images courtesy Deutsche Lufthansa AG

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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