Lufthansa will add first class to its Airbus A350 fleet in mid-2023, although the German flag-carrier is expected to take a measured approach when it comes to the post-pandemic travel market.
The Star Alliance member has confirmed its first Airbus A350-900 offering first class "will join the fleet and take off from Munich... in late summer 2023".
Ten A350-900s with first class are expected to be based in Munich, and will complement the Boeing 777-9s which will make Frankfurt their home.
But before those ultra-premium A350s take wing, Lufthansa says it will "temporarily reactivate" five Airbus A340-600 aircraft with eight first class seats from mid-2022 for flights "to North American and Asian destinations."
"The decision to reactivate these aircraft is due to growing premium demand, for business as well as leisure travel," the airline claims.
"Munich Airport is Europe's only 5-star hub for years and is popular among Lufthansa passengers, globally, not only as the gateway to Bavaria, but as a leading, premium airport offering an inspiring travel journey."
Lufthansa's Airbus A350 first class
The new first class suites are believed to be limited to the first row of the A350's cabin, which indicates there will be either three or four suites depending on the design and layout chosen.
Lufthansa is tipped to introduce a fresh take on first class, rather than adapt the suites currently featured on its its Boeing 747-8 jets.
While the airline could commission an all-new first class design, the effort and expense for just 3-4 suites across ten A350 aircraft would be questionable.
First class, or 'business plus'?
Given that the A350s will sport Lufthansa's all-new business class created by Thompson Aero, it's more likely the airline could adopt a more bespoke 'front row' experience, which is something Thompson and its partner Factorydesign have been steadfast in promoting.
This transforms the normal attributes of the front row in a cabin – where business class seats facing the bulkhead wall already tend to have extra legroom – into a superior set of seats with more personal space plus sliding privacy doors.
It's the approach adopted by China Eastern for the 'Air Living Room' of its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 fleet...
... and, in a more radical fashion, on Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350, which has its own row 1 cabin – although this was subsequently rebranded from first class to 'business suites' in December 2018.
Lufthansa has previously floated the idea of a 'business class plus' row along those same lines, offering even more comfort and privacy, paired with upgraded meals, drinks and service.