PICTURES & VIDEO: Lufthansa plans to increase A380 fleet to eight by mid-summer

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Lufthansa should double its current Airbus A380 fleet to eight by mid-summer, and stresses the recent Rolls-Royce Trent 900 issues should not affect its planned delivery schedule for the superjumbo aircraft in 2011.

During an interview with ATI and Flightglobal at the touchdown of Lufthansa's first A380 flight from its Frankfurt hub to New York JFK, Nico Buchholz, executive vice president, Lufthansa Group Fleet Management said the 2011 A380 schedule for the airline would not be affected in any way an uncontained Trent 900 engine failure on a Qantas A380 in November of last year.

Buchholz says Lufthansa should receive a fifth A380 within the next four weeks, and have a total of eight in its fleet by the mid-summer timeframe.

Lufthansa's February 28 flight from Frankfurt to JFK marked the carrier's first North American A380 destination. The carrier plans to launch new daily Frankfurt-San Francisco flights in May of this year to replace Boeing 747-operated service, it said during a celebration today at JFK airport.

 
 © Paul Thompson

Buchholz says San Francisco is currently the "furthest out" with respect to new A380 route planning, but Lufthansa VP of Americas Jens Bischof says a number of US destinations "look good to us" including Miami, Washington Dulles and Chicago.

Bischof stresses that Lufthansa has received an overwhelming positive customer response to the carrier's current A380 service to Tokyo, Beijing and Johannesburg, noting a load factor generally beyond 90% seat load factors, "and at the same time you have to understand we increased capacity by almost 50%".

 © Paul Thompson

Lufthansa on the A380 has introduced a new first class, featuring a flat bed layout and two huge "five star" bathrooms, says Bischof, in addition to a humidification system that makes customers feel less jet lagged.