Lufthansa is considering eventually replacing its Boeing 747-8 fleet with the proposed 777-9X some time in the next decade, Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz indicated on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Cape Town. Franz pointed out that once a twin becomes available in the 747-8 size category, any airline would have to take a close look at such an aircraft because it is likely to be more efficient.

Lufthansa is currently the only passenger airline operating the latest 747 version, it has 19 747-8s on firm order, six of which have been delivered. The airline is studying the proposed new 777 family as part of its replacement plans for the A340-300 and -600. Lufthansa plans to order around 50 additional long-haul aircraft later this year.

The airline is looking at the A350-900/1000 or a mix of Boeing 787-9/10X and the proposed 777-8X and -9X. Lufthansa plans to take delivery of the aircraft from around the turn of the decade to about 2025. The -9X could also be used as a replacement of the smaller 747-400, some of which the airline has already retired. Franz said the decision-making process is already far advanced, but the deal won’t be decided within the next few weeks.

Lufthansa is also critical of the general design trends for long-haul aircraft. Because of pressure mainly by the fast growing Gulf carriers, both Airbus and Boeing are being pushed to design aircraft with more range capabilities and engine power than needed by most other operators. European airlines therefore have to deal with overdesigned aircraft that carry additional unneeded weight, Franz argued.