Austrian to keep 767s and 777s until 2020

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Austrian Airlines plans to operate its Boeing 767 and 777 long-haul fleet until 2020, and could source potential replacement aircraft through the 777X and Airbus A350 orders placed by parent Lufthansa.

Earlier this year, the Vienna-based carrier completed a €90 million ($124 million) cabin refurbishment programme for its widebody fleet, which included installation of new business-class seats and IFE systems.

That decision was based on the premise that the aircraft would be utilised until the end of their service life, which averages around 24 years within Lufthansa Group, says Austrian chief executive Jaan Albrecht.

After evaluating costs against benefits of the cabin revamp, the Alpine airline decided that the investment was worthwhile despite the aircraft’s age, he says.

With the seat life being calculated at about seven years, both the 767s and 777s will remain in service until 2020, says Albrecht.

Austrian operates six 767-300ERs manufactured between 1991 and 2000, and four 777-200ERs manufactured between 1997 and 2007, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. The carrier plans to add a wet-leased 777 to the long-haul fleet in 2014.

When the aircraft will be retired, they could be replaced by long-haul 777X or A350s as part of Lufthansa's long-haul fleet order, placed in September.

This would be in line with Lufthansa’s aim of standardising fleets across the group, says Albrecht.

The German airline has firm orders for 34 777-9X and 25 A350-900 aircraft. But it also arranged optional orders and purchase rights for up to 30 777-9X and 30 A350 aircraft, which can be utilised depending on economical circumstances.

The A350s are to be delivered from 2016, while the 777X is to join Lufthansa fleet from 2020.