Withdrawn Lufthansa fleet to reach 25 aircraft this summer

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Lufthansa is to increase to 25 this summer the number of aircraft withdrawn from service as part of the effort to reduce the carrier's capacity.

The airline's vice-president for strategy, Harald Deprosse, outlined the plans in an investor presentation on 25 June.

He said Lufthansa had prepared a four-stage plan - from frequency adjustments to route cancellations - enabling it to put in place potential capacity cuts of up to 8% in the long-haul sector and 11% in short-haul.

Lufthansa has already taken five long-haul and 13 short-haul aircraft out of operation, but is to remove a Boeing 747, Airbus A340-300 and another five Airbus A300-600s from July.

The effect will be a fleet shift towards larger aircraft, within which there will be a configuration adjustment to increase economy-class seating at the expense of business-class.

Lufthansa's intercontinental fleet comprises A340-300s, A340-600s and 747-400s, each with three basic configuration options. The carrier says it typically flies this fleet in summer with a premium-to-economy seating ratio of 20-30%.

Both the A340-300s and -600s are currently fitted with 'medium' business-to-economy layouts of 48:165 and 60:238 respectively, while two-thirds of the 747-400 fleet is configured with the 'medium' 66:270 and only one-third with the 'high' 80:234 option.

"We've decided, for summer, because of the lower business demand this year, to go to the medium configuration," says Deprosse. All three types could have their configurations brought down, he adds, to even lower ratios of 48:270 for the A340-600s, 36:197 for the A340-300s, and 52:310 for the 747s.

When combined with adjustments to layouts on the continental fleet, achieved by moving the cabin divider, Deprosse says the overall capacity effect amounts to 1% without changing the number of aircraft in the fleet.

Phasing out the A300-600s is part of a broad cost-cutting strategy which Lufthansa, so far, expects will save €300 million ($420 million) during 2009, says Lufthansa board member Roland Busch.

Overall capacity in 2009 is down by 1.6%, says Lufthansa, comprising a 1.2% cut in long-haul and 2.5% in short-haul. This takes into account the creation of its new Lufthansa Italia operation in Milan. Without this, Lufthansa's short-haul capacity reduction would have been 5.2%, taking the overall cut to 2.4%.

Lufthansa Group has 50 long-haul aircraft - including 20 Boeing 747-8s and 15 Airbus A380s - plus 61 short-haul and 77 regional aircraft on order.