German flag carrier's board is also poised to rubber stamp order for 15 Airbus A380s

Lufthansa is considering placing its first orders for the Airbus A330. The move comes after a study into the acquisition of a fleet of Boeing 757s for use on medium-haul routes determined too few aircraft were required for it to be economical.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa group chief executive Jürgen Weber says he will ask the supervisory board to approve an order for up to 15 A380 ultra-large airliners when it meets in September.

The airline had been looking at introducing a fleet of three-class Boeing 757-200ERs on routes to Africa, the Middle East and CIS served by widebody A340s making multiple stops - but needed to acquire around 15 aircraft to justify adding a new type.

"The 757 is no longer a priority as the business case did not show a large enough fleet," says Lufthansa senior vice president network management Karl Ulrich Garnadt.

The carrier - the world's largest A340 customer - confirms it is discussing a A330 order with Airbus but says a decision is not expected soon. "We consider the A330 to be a very attractive option for future fleet expansion," says Garnadt.

Industry sources suggest the A330 twinjet is also being considered for transatlantic flights, which would signal a shift in Lufthansa's policy of using four-engined aircraft for transoceanic services.

The original versions of A330 and A340 were developed simultaneously and share a high degree of commonality. Lufthansa has previously looked at the A330 as a replacement for its smaller A300s and A310s, but gave a lukewarm response to an Airbus proposal to develop a further A330 shrink known as the -500.

Weber said in a recent interview with German business newspaper Der Spiegel that, in addition to the A380 decision, the board will also be asked to approve the purchase of five more Boeing 747-400s as a partial replacement for eight 747-200s. The A380 order had been expected earlier this year but was delayed by the recently resolved pilot pay dispute.

Source: Flight International