Lufthansa to decide on long-range aircraft order in Q4

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Lufthansa expects to place a major order for long-range aircraft to replace its Airbus A340s and Boeing 747-400s in the fourth quarter.

The carrier is still waiting for information from the airframers, says Jurgen Weber, the chairman of the carrier's supervisory board. "We will make the decision on long-range aircraft in the last quarter of this year," he tells reporters at a press briefing in Washington DC today.

Weber declines to specify the number of aircraft the airline will order but says two-thirds of the order will be replacement aircraft for its A340s and 747-400s while the remaining one-third will be for growth.

Lufthansa operates 24 A340-300s, 24 A340-600s and 18 747-400s, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.

"It will be a major order," says Weber.

He adds that the airline would have placed an order for long-range aircraft earlier, but did not have the necessary data on the next generation of long-range widebodies such as the Boeing 777X and the A350 to make a decision.

Boeing has not said when the 777X will enter service, but the General Electric GE9X that will power the aircraft type is not scheduled to be certificated until May 2018. There is usually at least a one year gap between engine certification and an aircraft's entry into service.

The longest range variant of the A350 family, the A350-1000, will enter into service in 2017, after the -900 and -800.

Airbus plans to conduct first flight of the A350 in the summer, with first deliveries of the A350-900 to take place in the second half of 2014.