In a statement Lufthansa said, it has agreed to lease four new Airbus A350-900 long-haul passenger jets in a move aimed at restructuring its balance sheet midst the coronavirus-induced COVID-19 pandemic.
“Airplanes are currently available at low lease rates as carriers review their portfolios”, said industry sources.
The move was announced by Lufthansa’s Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr on the sidelines of an airlines conference dominated by debate over emissions and heavy industry losses due to the pandemic.
“Fleet modernization, in my view, is one pillar to cope with the sustainability challenges,” said Spohr on the sidelines of a meeting of airlines group IATA.
According to a source familiar with the deal, the aircraft were originally earmarked for Philippine Airlines, which has been restructuring its fleet, and will be available early next year”.
The addition of the Airbus A350-900 to its fleet will speed up the replacement of less fuel-efficient Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 747-400 jets, said Lufthansa and result in 30% lesser emissions per plane.
Once the news planes are inducted into its fleet, its fleet strength will jump to 21 aircraft.
The slow reopening of borders in China midst strict coronavirus travel restrictions is hurting its economic recovery, said Spohr.
“We are not only slowing down our recovery at Lufthansa, which is also my concern, we are slowing down the recovery of the economic relations between China and Germany,” said Spohr.
China has significantly reduced transportation links with other countries following the emergence of the coronavirus, which was reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, following which it spread across the globe.
Airlines, both domestic and foreign, face the risk of their flight routes being suspended temporarily if a certain number of infected passengers are detected on arrival in China.