Lufthansa officially took delivery of its new ‘Queen of the Skies,’ the B747-8 this week at a large scale event in a hangar at Frankfurt airport.
The aircraft landed safely and was slowly rolled into the busy hangar to a heavy rock soundtrack, before cabin crew and Lufthansa CEOs Carsten Spohr and Christoph Franz deplaned and gave speeches in German.
Lufthansa is the first commercial customer for the new jumbo jet, with an unnamed VIP customer taking the first completed aircraft. The carrier will operate its first commercial flight, LH418, to launch destination Washington Dulles on June 1.
Lufthansa will take delivery of a total of 20 747-8s by 2015, the first five of which arrive this year and will serve New Delhi, Bangalore, Chicago and Los Angeles. These routes replace those currently served by B747-400s, but also look to combat the Gulf carriers serving key US and Asian markets.
Speaking at a press conference following the delivery ceremony CEO Carsten Spohr said, “There’s really no weapon against state owned subsidised airlines, so the only weapon there is, is better service.”
The 747-8 has 20 more seats than the old 747s, with eight first class seats located in the quiet nose section, 92 new forward facing V style business class seats on the upper and lower decks and 262 economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration towards the rear of the lower deck (to see a seat plan, click here).
The A380 has eight in first and 98 old style business class seats, but is due to be retrofitted with the new product, which may reduce premium capacity.
The first class seat is the same as that onboard the A380 (see online news May 2010) and is configured 1-1. So, while first class passengers will have the separate seat and fully flat bed on the retro-fitted B747-400s (see online news March 2011), on the B747-800s they will have just the fully flat seat.
The 92 business class seats are split between the two decks, with 32 on the upper deck in a 2-2 configuration and 60 seats in 2-2-2 on the lower deck.
The carrier’s new business class received a mixed reaction when we first reported details back in March (see online news March 8). The seat reclines to a 1.98 metre full-flat bed and the footrests are angled toward one another, meaning people sat in window seats must climb over their neighbour to access the aisle.
Lufthansa is retrofitting this new seat across its long-haul fleet of more than 100 aircraft over the next four years.
Spohr responded to questions about a potential premium economy product by saying that in the past Lufthansa feared it would cannibalise the key business class market rather than looking at the upsale. Now, with the new full-flat business class product the carrier is ready to meet again within the next nine months to discuss premium economy.
The B747-8 utilises modern wing design and the same engines used in the B787 Dreamliner, which makes it 15 per cent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, the 747-400, as well as boasting a 30 per cent reduced noise footprint.
Prices for flights between Frankfurt and Washington are around €8,500 for first class, €4,500 in business and €600-1,600 in economy, according to Spohr.
For more information visit lufthansa.com.
Report by Scott Carey