Lufthansa not deterred by widebody delivery delays

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Lufthansa is not hiding its disappointment that its Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8I aircraft deliveries have been delayed by the airframers.

But the German operator believes flexibility within its current fleet will help it meet these challenges, Lufthansa VP, Americas Jens Bischof told ATI yesterday at an event in New York, during which the carrier debuted its new first- and business-class menu selections.

The first of 15 A380s slated for delivery to Lufthansa will not arrive until the first quarter of 2010, says Bischof.

Deliveries of the 747-8I - for which Lufthansa is the only airline customer - has slipped another three-to-six months to the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the airframer.

The carrier is also "receiving first messages" concerning other possible aircraft delivery delays, says Bischof.

"Of course we want the suppliers to stick to their schedules. We were clearly planning on that capacity," says the Lufthansa executive.

But he stresses that Lufthansa's fleet structure "is flexible". The carrier's widebody fleet includes Airbus A330s, A340s and Boeing 747s.

Additionally, the current global economic crisis has put pressure on premium and leisure travel in the near-term.

Bischof says the carrier responds to lower demand by firstly removing seats, and secondly, by winding down frequencies. An ultimate and final step would be to give up a destination. But Lufthansa has "no plans for giving up destinations", he says.

The carrier "does not see a pessimistic view of the future". While its 2009 outlook sees a large cut in profitability over 2008, the company is nonetheless "quite confident" it will "post a significant profit for 2009".