Lufthansa switching to all-Airbus mainline fleet at Munich

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Lufthansa is switching to an all-Airbus mainline fleet at Munich to cut maintenance and crewing costs, as it meanwhile prepares to phase out the remaining 50-seaters from the regional feeder operation at its number two hub.

The last eight Munich-based Boeing 737-300/500s will be withdrawn during 2009, leaving the German flag carrier with an all-Airbus operation out of the southern German city, comprising up to 27 long-haul A330/A340s and about 40 A320-family narrowbodies.

"From a maintenance and overhaul point of view, we have big advantages here cost-wise to have just Airbus," says Lufthansa vice-president Munich hub development and capacity management Steffen Harbarth.

The Munich-based long-haul fleet consists of 10 A340-600s, nine A340-300s, four A330-300s and one 48-seat Airbus Corporate Jet operated by PrivatAir, which is used to serve Dubai during the summer season and Boston in the winter.

Harbarth says "one, up to three to four" long-haul widebodies could be added next year, although "planning is still under way". The intercontinental fleet at Munich has grown from just eight aircraft in 2003, when Lufthansa's Terminal 2 opened.

 ©Munich Airport

The Munich regional fleet, operated by Lufthansa CityLine and several partner carriers under the Lufthansa Regional brand, includes seven 80-100 seaters (BAE Systems Avro RJ85s and Bombardier CRJ900s), 23 70-seaters (CRJ700s and Q400 turboprops) and nine 50-seaters (CRJ200s/ATR 42s).

Harbarth says the last 50-seaters will leave during the 2009-10 winter timetable as 112-seat Embraer 195s are delivered. Lufthansa has 30 of the Brazilian regional jets on order, "more than two-thirds" of which are likely to be based in Munich, with the rest going to the airline's principal hub in Frankfurt.

"We will have the same number of [regional] aircraft, but a tremendous capacity increase," says Harbarth. He adds that there are no immediate plans to increase the size of the turboprop fleet to help mitigate the high cost of fuel, "but we are closely watching that question".

Munich handles about a quarter of Lufthansa's passenger traffic, behind Frankfurt with a 55% share.