Lufthansa has made an adjustment to their Boeing 777X order, by pulling out of a commitment to purchase 14 of the larger 777-9s worth $6.2 billion.
The announcement comes as the airline works to slow fleet growth in an effort to reduce capital and overcapacity.
Rather than cancelling the order completely, the airline has formed an agreement with Boeing to re-designate the aircraft as options. As Bloomberg said in their article, the adjustment is usually in the other direction where options are exercised into firm orders.
Lufthansa notes that the 14 aircraft are “not sufficiently certain to be exercised”. By switching to options, Lufthansa can sensibly operate based on current market demands and approach capacity growth with greater caution.
As a result of this adjustment, Lufthansa now has firm orders for 20 Boeing 777-9 planes with options for 14 more.
The announcement ties in with a campaign to optimise the Lufthansa Group fleet. By opting for smaller and more capable aircraft, Lufthansa can cull the remaining fleet of ageing or unsuitable wide bodies and retain the flexibility to operate a wide variety of routes; this includes planes such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747.
Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr mentioned as early as 2017 that the 777-9 order was under review. Lufthansa still remains to be one of the launch customers for the 777-9, with their first aircraft already being assembled by Boeing.
March saw an order for 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 20 Airbus A350-900s to be deployed across the group between 2022 and 2027. The flexibility of the aircraft will allow further optimisation of widebody routes, resulting in lower operational costs.
Boeing has been forced to delay service entry for the 777-9, after being hit with multiple General Electric GE9X engine set backs and a load test that saw a cargo door blast off the airframe.
First flight isn’t expected until early next year, which has left the first delivery date pushed back until early to mid 2021.
Emirates has voiced great concern over the delays, also rumours are circulating that an order adjustment from the airline is expected during the upcoming Dubai Airshow.