Lufthansa adds four new Airbus A350s to its fleet


Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) “Willy Brandt” in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany on October 31, 2020. Tobias Schwarz / Pool via REUTERS

BOSTON, Oct. 3 (Reuters) – Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) on Sunday said it had agreed to lease four new long-haul Airbus A350-900s, taking on newer planes left homeless as airlines restructure their balance sheets in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

The planes are currently available at low rental rates as carriers revise their portfolios, industry sources say.

Managing Director Carsten Spohr announced the decision of the German national carrier on the sidelines of an airlines conference dominated by debate over emissions and heavy industry losses from the pandemic.

“Fleet modernization, in my opinion, is a pillar in addressing sustainability challenges,” Spohr told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the IATA airline group.

The plane was originally intended for Philippine Airlines, which has restructured its fleet, and will be available early next year, a person familiar with the deal said.

Their arrival will speed up the replacement of the less fuel-efficient Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 747-400, Lufthansa said, with 30% less emissions per aircraft.

Lufthansa said the four new planes will increase its A350 fleet to 21 aircraft.

Spohr also said he was concerned that a slow reopening of borders in China amid strict coronavirus travel restrictions could hurt the German air carrier’s recovery.

“We are not only slowing down our recovery at Lufthansa, which concerns me as well, we are slowing the recovery of economic relations between China and Germany,” he said.

China has sharply reduced transport links with other countries as the coronavirus, which first appeared in the central city of Wuhan in China in late 2019, has spread around the world.

Visitors to mainland China, regardless of nationality, face strict requirements before traveling, including multiple medical tests and strict quarantine rules upon entry.

Airlines, both Chinese and non-Chinese, also run the risk of having their flight routes temporarily suspended if a number of infected passengers are detected upon arrival in China.

Additional reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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