German flag carrier Lufthansa is unconcerned about its continuing status as the only confirmed airline customer for the passenger version of the Boeing 747-8, insisting that freighter conversion potential means the aircraft will hold its value.
Lufthansa has underlined its commitment to the aircraft while Boeing appears on the verge of securing Nigeria's Arik Air as a second carrier for the type. Arik has signed a letter of intent to take three of the General Electric GEnx-powered 747-8 Intercontinental.
Slow sales of the 747-8I have not prompted a rethink at the German airline. Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber says the carrier is "not at all" bothered about its lonely position, pointing to the airline's experience with 747s and the type's enduring appeal as a freighter.
"We could operate the [747-8] for 20 or 30 years and then use them as freighters," he says. "They will retain their value."
Lufthansa, which is also acquiring 15 Airbus A380s, has a firm order for 20 747-8Is and options on another 20. The only other firm customers for the 747-8I are private clients taking seven VIP-configured aircraft through Boeing Business Jets.
Sales of the 747-8 freighter have been much stronger with nine carriers and lessors ordering 78 aircraft.