Lufthansa could place A380s on US routes in early 2011

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Lufthansa is scheduled to take delivery of two more Airbus A380s early next year that the carrier aims to cycle into US service.

The airline is currently operating three A380s, and plans to take delivery of a fourth aircraft on 19 November, said Lufthansa director alliances and business development Florian Dehne at the International Aviation Forecast Summit hosted by the Boyd Group International. Lufthansa has ordered a total of 15 A380s.

Two more deliveries are scheduled for early next year, and Dehne says the carrier hopes to operate the aircraft to New York's John F. Kennedy International airport, Miami or San Francisco. "It depends on the rotation," he says.

Dehne points out that after Emirates Lufthansa has the largest aircraft order pipeline in the industry. Flightglobal's ACAS database shows the carrier has firm orders for 97 aircraft. He's quick to explain unlike Emirates, Lufthansa does not have 90 A380s on order. "I don't know where they're going to fly them," says Dehne.

Dehne believes growth plans by Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar and their cost base difference pose significant challenges in the future. While he states Lufthansa's partners United and Continental tend to think the challenge is more of an issue for European carriers, with 90 A380s in the pipeline, "you'll see a lot of those big birds come here [the USA]".

Despite viewing the growth of Gulf carriers as a competitive challenge in the future, Dehne also pays them a compliment. "They know what they are doing and they attack globally."