Lufthansa is grounding 43 aircraft as it cuts capacity across its network and has "indefinitely suspended" plans to order 15 Airbus A380s and four Boeing 747-400s in light of the traffic downturn.

The airline says that the programme, which will start with the indefinite parking of its eight Boeing 747-200s, will include retiring an as yet unspecified mix of narrow and widebody aircraft.

The German flag carrier blames the move on the "steep decline in utilisation" of its intercontinental flights, which accompanies a sharp reduction of routes in its winter schedule. Lufthansa is dropping its daily New York flights from Dusseldorf and Munich, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sïo Paulo flights from Munich. It is also likely that the airline's services to Singapore will be slimmed.

Wolfgang Mayrhuber, the airline's chief operating officer, says: "These measures will enable us to match capacities to the reduced demand." Lufthansa plans to withdraw almost a fifth of its mainline fleet of 235 aircraft. Types affected include Airbus A340s and Boeing 747s on its long haul routes and the Airbus A320 family aircraft and Boeing 737s used on European flights. A decision on the long-term fate of these aircraft is due before the end of the year.

The planned purchase of 15 A380s and four 747-400s had been approved by its supervisory board on 10 September, but Lufthansa "obviously has other priorities" now, Lufthansa says.

Source: Flight International