Lufthansa signals major wide-body jet order

Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:02pm EDT
 
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By Marilyn Gerlach

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Lufthansa LHAG.DE signaled its second major aircraft order in six months on Wednesday, saying its supervisory board had backed a long-haul fleet plan that industry watchers expect to benefit Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing BA.N.

The German airline group said it would hold a news conference to outline the multi-billion-dollar investment at 11 a.m. local time (0900 GMT) in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Lufthansa is in the middle of a deep revamp that includes 3,500 job cuts, while investing in modern jets to cut its fuel bill and catch up with Middle East rivals particularly on the highly fought over routes between Europe and Asia.

On Friday, two people familiar with the matter said Europe's largest airline by revenue was putting the finishing touches to a deal worth well over $10 billion at list prices to be split between the world's top planemakers.

The purchase of dozens of aircraft will include the first provisional order for a revamped version of Boeing's most popular big jet, currently code-named 777-9X, the people said.

An order for the 406-seat model would be subject to its formal launch, which the U.S. planemaker expects by year-end. It is expected to enter service around the end of the decade.

Lufthansa also plans to purchase around 20-25 Airbus A350-900 jets, the European manufacturer's latest model which is due to enter service in the second half of 2014, they said.

The combined order could be worth $17 billion at list prices based on estimated values for the 777-9X, whose new wings and engines are expected to command a premium to existing 777s.   Continued...

 
The tails of German air carrier Lufthansa aircraft are seen at Fraport airport in Frankfurt May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner