Lufthansa's first Boeing 787-9 jets will take wing by the end of this year, and they'll sport an all-new business class seat – but this won't the long-awaited seat created for the long-delayed Boeing 777X.
Instead, the Deutsche Dreamliners will carry an 'interim' design to bridge the gap between the carrier's last-gen and next-gen seating.
Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr, speaking overnight at the airline's annual general meeting, confirmed that the Boeing 777-9 business class concept revealed in 2017 would still debut on those jets circa 2023-2024.
In the meantime, the first five Boeing 787s arriving from late 2021 to mid-2022 will be fitted with something else again – "an upgraded business class compared to the current product" – but it'll be a clear step up, beginning with direct aisle access so there'll be no need to step over anybody.
That 1-2-1 layout is about all that's known of the new seat, with a Lufthansa spokesperson saying "this represents an important first step in improving our long-haul product as a whole, in the course of which the new Lufthansa Group Business Class will also be introduced."
With only five aircraft to be fitted out at this stage, there's been early speculation they could see a Vantage XL design from Thompson Aero and Factorydesign, along the same lines as that of LH sibling Swiss.
Thompson has also provided Vantage-based business class seating for Lufthansa's Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines, and was behind Lufthansa's advanced Boeing 777-9 business class.
German aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth suggests Lufthansa will install an "improved" version "of the current product," although it's challenging to see how that design could be efficiently and cost-effectively be modified to a 1-2-1 format.
However, as these five Boeing 787-9s were originally slated for another (at this stage unknown) airline and nimbly picked up by Lufthansa after that order was cancelled, it's likely have whatever business class seat was intended by that airline, given the usually lengthy period for design and fit-out.
With 1-2-1 now the norm for medium-long range business class, whatever was intended for those orphaned Dreamliners could even be from Thompson's Vantage XL line or an equivalent from other seat-makers such as Collins, Safran or Stelia.
Spohr also announced that Lufthansa would add five more Airbus A350-900s to its international fleet, on top of the 17 already in its hangars and the 36 orders and options on the books, "pushing ahead with the modernisation of our long-haul fleet even faster than planned prior to the coronavirus."
"Even in these challenging times, we are continuing to invest in a more modern, more efficient and a lower emission Lufthansa Group fleet," Spohr said.
"The new aircraft are the most modern of their kind. We want to further expand our global leadership role, among other things, with cutting-edge premium products and a state-of-the-art fleet – especially because we have a responsibility to the environment."