Lufthansa: Do we really want to put ourselves through this?

Last Updated: 22. Januar 2024By

The recent turbulence surrounding the 737 Max model is indirectly affecting Lufthansa: The traditional airline had announced shortly before Christmas that it would order 40 jets of this type from Boeing and secure options for another 60 aircraft to be delivered in the coming years. Where exactly they will be used is apparently not yet clear – the main brand Lufthansa, however, intends to leave out for now. The 737 Max is therefore likely to be used by subsidiary airlines such as Austrian, Swiss, Brussels or Eurowings.

Strategic turnaround: 737s retired by Lufthansa years ago. The new order is a small sensation and a strategic turnaround: Lufthansa had retired the 737 after decades of use in the fall of 2016. Since then, Germany’s largest airline has exclusively used Airbus for short and medium-haul flights. The newly decided diversification is apparently intended to minimize strategic risks that could arise from too much dependence on a single supplier in the long term. In addition, Airbus‘ capacities are fully utilized until 2030 and it is not possible to obtain the popular medium-haul aircraft from the A320 series before that.

However, the German-French aircraft manufacturer is not left out in Lufthansa’s shopping spree: On the one hand, Lufthansa orders 40 aircraft of the smaller type A220, on the other hand, the airline secures options for 40 more jets from the A320neo series, which has been very successful in recent years.

Fleet modernization – with the risk of a massive reputation damage? At Lufthansa’s headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, there is talk of the largest fleet modernization in the company’s history, which is being accelerated and pushed forward by the new orders. The Lufthansa order list now includes 280 aircraft and purchase options for 120 more jets.

However, in light of the recent negative headlines surrounding the incident at Alaska Airlines with a 737 Max that was only a few weeks old, there are now voices suggesting that Lufthansa should cancel its order. Because if one of Lufthansa’s subsidiaries were to experience a similar incident in the air, even the highly regarded German traditional airline would suffer a massive reputation damage.

Does Lufthansa really want to bring Boeing’s problem aircraft into its own house? These are not isolated incidents that are burdening Boeing and its 737 Max. They are serious structural quality problems. Critics see the cause of this in the 1990s. After the merger with the former competitor McDonnell Douglas, profit was put above engineering, and many processes in the development and production of individual components were outsourced to service providers around the world. The various problems that this brings with it culminate in the catastrophic safety risks of the 737 Max, which was apparently rushed into production too quickly to counter the A320neo from Airbus.

However, it is unforgivable that this was done at the expense of the quality of the aircraft and the safety of crews and passengers. With the 737 Max, it could be the latest version of the very aircraft that made Boeing great that could lead to the downfall of the company. Lufthansa should carefully consider whether it really wants to be a part of this decline.