February 21, 2013 Lufthansa to Buy The 777-300 for Swiss International Airlines, Maybe.
Aviation Week, is reporting that Lufthansa is looking at acquire 6 777-300’s for subsidiary Swiss Air.
While the order if it happens would be small, six air frames, it would mark a shift from Airbus to Boeing. Currently the Lufthansa Group operates only 4 772ERS and they were acquired in a merger. Lufthansa has shown little interest in Boeing planes outside of a token order of 15 Boeing 747-8is. Between Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian, and Brussels (all part of the the Lufthansa group) the current fleet plan after retirements is 42 Boeing aircraft, 19 747-400’s 15 747-8is, 4 767’s and 4 772ers. This number is really smaller at the 15 748’s will be replacing the 744s, so it is closer to 25 Boeing frames compared with a current fleet of around 480 frames. So less than 10% of the Lufthansa group’s fleet is made by Boeing.
Aviation week cites available slots as the reason for the Boeing order. That’s believable as the the A350, the closest Airbus equivalent to the 773 will not be online for several years. These 773s will replace Swiss’ A340 fleet. The A340-300 that Swiss currently operates has largely been replaced by the A330-300, basically a twin engine variant of the A340-300. The cost of moving to two engines resulted in shorter range. So, while Swiss was able to replace their Trans-Atlantic fleet with the A330s, they were not able to do so on their Asia flights. The quest for greater efficiency and lower operating costs has led Lufthansa to at least contemplate ordering 777-300s.
One added benefit for Lufthansa would be preferential pricing from Boeing. Boeing would love to book another order from a long time Airbus customer. Also Lufthansa might be able to leverage future Airbus orders.