Lufthansa last week rolled out its “newest” Airbus A350, which will be configured a lot different than the current A350s out there.
Let us take a look.
The new aircraft – D-AIVC is named after the city of Munich. It was christened at Munich Airport by the Bavarian Minister, President Dr. Markus Söder.
The “Munich” is the first aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet to offer its guests an improved Business Class. All seats have direct access to the aisle, can be easily and quickly converted into a two-meter-long bed and offer more storage space. In addition, travellers have significantly more space in the shoulder area.
As for the seats themselves, they’re not the current generation units that are flying aboard Lufthansa long-haul, rather they are Thomson Vantage XL seats. This aircraft originally was destined for Philippines Airlines – but instead was snapped up by the Lufthansa Group and deployed with Lufthansa.
On previous long haul aircraft, Lufthansa flew a variant of the Collins Aerospace Diamond seat, with the footsie together footwell (separated by a bit of plastic, rather than formed into their separated footwells).
Whilst the seat was a good option at the time (I’ve flown with a variant of the type when American Airlines used 757’s across the pond), it shows its age when compared to modern variants – be the Collins SuperDiamond, Thomson Vantage XL or Recaro CL6710).
The move to the Vantage XL is not the new wonder-seat that was teased in 2019- which looks to be further delayed as they still want to roll this out with the Boeing 777X when it finally arrives.
And if noises out of Boeing recently, don’t expect to be seeing customer deliveries until at least 2025 at the earliest.
According to Lufthansa the introduction of the improved Business Class marks the beginning of an extensive renewal of Lufthansa’s cabins. Next year, the airline will introduce a new top product in all travel classes, Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class, that is unparalleled in the market.
Where can you fly this variant?
This aircraft – D-AIVC – is based out of the airline’s hub in Munich. The airline plans to operate it to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in the first instance.
Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG said:
“The A350 is the quietest and most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft in our fleet. With a significantly improved Business Class on board, this aircraft also represents the beginning of one of the largest product modernizations in Lufthansa’s history. This aircraft is sustainable and offers customers a premium flight experience. The “Munich” is a worthy ambassador of the Bavarian capital to the world.”
It might be the sixth aircraft named Munich – but it’s going to force hard questions at Lufthansa
This is the sixth aircraft to be named after the city of Munich – the most recent before this was an Airbus A380 (as I caught it in 2018).
However, the implementation of a new seat will force some new questions for Lufthansa – and how they wish to move forward with their business class strategy. Including this new wonder seat.
The seat as previewed in 2017 – Image, Lufthansa Group.
And yes. I dug up the original release that was announced at the end of 2017.
Arriving 2020. We’re all a bit behind on that, to put it mildly.
This puts this new seat late – horrendously so, at 4+ years before a first deployment.
In some ways, the market has moved on, with passengers and airlines loving seats with doors on them for the enclosed suite effect rather than these semi-open seats.
But for Lufthansa Group, two different types of seats will be now flying with the airline on long-haul – which customers may seek out, or may cause confusion when a particular seat doesn’t;t turn up on a flight they’re expecting.
For Lufthansa Group, there are going to be hard questions as they now have a new product out there and if they can wait until the Boeing 777X turns up – or if they are going to consider deploying their new seat much sooner.
There’s a lot of aircraft to fit – be it the aircraft within the Lufthansa fleet, but also its long haul subsidiaries (Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines).
Whilst putting new fabric on someone else’s seat design is an easy fix to bring this new A350 into service, it’s going to cause more than a little head-scratching about what to do next with Lufthansa’s interior renewal.
And if to deploy the much-vaunted new seat.
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