Lufthansa’s much-anticipated but long-delayed business class reboot is now scheduled for 2023: some three years later than originally planned.
The airline’s fresh business class seats – bringing the carrier’s product into line with the expectations of modern travellers – will finally see every premium passenger afforded direct (and uninterrupted) access to the aisle.
The relaunch will also introduce ‘throne’-style seating in selected locations, with more space to work plus a longer bed: but expect to pay more for these rows than a standard seat.
“By 2023, Lufthansa German Airlines plans to introduce a completely new business class featuring optimal sleeping comfort and more private space, along with more individual seating options,” the company shares in its Annual Report for the 2020 fiscal year, published this month.
“The Lufthansa Group invests continuously in new aircraft, products and services to keep improving the travel experience for its customers. This will continue in the years ahead.”
In Germany, the financial year aligns with the calendar year, with Lufthansa’s 2020 Annual Report covering the period from January 1 2020 through until December 31 2020.
A new aircraft for a new business class
The ongoing delays impacting the launch of Lufthansa’s new business class stem from rescheduled deliveries of new aircraft: particularly, the Boeing 777-9 (also known as the Boeing 777X).
First slated to join the Lufthansa fleet in 2020, the modern jets were set to debut Lufthansa’s upgraded seats – but with deliveries of these planes now pushed until at least late 2023, that may not be the case.
That’s because Lufthansa has a new batch of Airbus A350s on order too, complementing its existing A350 stable, and these new jets were also to arrive factory-fresh with the redesigned seats.
Lufthansa’s Annual Report shows that 26 new Airbus A350s, as well as 20 Boeing 777-9s, will begin arriving from 2023.
Deliveries of the Airbus jets will be staged between then and 2029, while the Boeing 777Xs will all arrive by the end of 2025, according to the document.
Airbus A350s may be fast-tracked
As previously reported, Lufthansa has also been negotiating with Airbus to bring forward delivery dates for some of those A350s.
This month’s report gave no update on those negotiations, but if these talks progress, new A350s may begin arriving sooner than 2023: or at least, before the first Boeing 777-9.
Despite delays on the Boeing side, Lufthansa has long considered itself as the launch customer for the Boeing 777X – despite rival Emirates repeatedly making the same claim – and the timeline of Lufthansa’s expected Boeing 777X deliveries put the ball back in Lufthansa’s court.
Any delivery of the Boeing 777-9 to Lufthansa in 2023 would put the German carrier ahead of Emirates, which now doesn’t expect to receive its first 777X until at least Q1 2024.
“I’m quite sure that we will be the launching customer,” Lufthansa Group’s Chief Commercial Officer Network Airlines, Harry Hohmeister, told Executive Traveller in 2019.
Being a launch customer “is more than just buying an aircraft, it’s also a collaboration not just regarding the interior, but also the technology and things like that, so I would wonder if we would not be the launching customer, and I don't like wonders!”