Germany’s main carrier Lufthansa took delivery of the first evr 747-8 Intercontinental to enter passenger service. The aircraft official hand over to Deutsche Lufthansa AG took place on April 25th 2012. The ceremony was attended notably by Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Christoph Franz, chairman of the Executive Board and chief executive officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The ferry flight to Germany saw the new aircraft registered as D-ABYA depart Everett airfield on May 1st with about 30 passengers and crews on board including company’s senior executives. The arrival event in Germany was marked by the aircraft conducting a touch and go maneuver at the Hamburg airport Lufthansa’s maintenance base before flying along to the carrier’s Frankfurt main staging base. The aircraft is scheduled to officially enter service on the Frankfurt-Washington Dulles route on June 1st 2012.
The New Fully Flat Business Class Seat
With the new business class seat that will debut on the 747-8I, Lufthansa finally ends years of compromise with a less competitive product for business travelers. The old seat which was introduced in 2004 lacked the fully flat bed feature that global carriers need to grow their business travelers market share. The result of years of study that included a 8 week trial period with passengers flying the Frankfurt-New York route in 2010, the new business class seat will leverage on the 747-8I cabin being 30% quieter than that of the 747-400 it replaces. As well the new curved interior concept will provide a more spacious and more modern experience.
Characteristically the new business seats are aligned in a V-shape layout. Adjacent seats join at the feet but are more widely separated at the shoulder area, hence providing greater separation between passengers. It is a 1.98m (6’6”) long seat supported by a 15” wide LCD screen which espouses the ergonomic and practicality advantages afforded by a protective shell as seen in Air France new business class seat.
The new Flagship (in front of the A380).
Despite its 5.6m length advantage over the 747-400, the new Lufthansa Jumbo Jet seating capacity has been confined to 362 passengers: 8 in First Class, 92 in Business Class and 262 in Economy Class. In comparison to the 8 First; 80 Business; 234 Economy (322 total) seats and 16 First; 52 Business; 310 Economy (378 total) seats on the two current configurations available on the old 747-400, the relatively lower seat density on the new aircraft shows Lufthansa emphasis on passenger comfort. This notion is supported by the previuosly mentioned 30% reduction in noise against he 747-400 and the prevalence of the A380 for high density shuttle service. Lufthansa’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380 leverages on its double decks to embark 526 passengers in a configuration that accommodates 8 Flat Bed seats in First Class, 98 old seats in Business Class and 420 seats in Economy Class. The current absence of the new Business class seat aboard the A380 seemingly elevates the 747-8I to flagship status. A very favorable delivery schedule will allow Lufthansa to fly up to 15 new Boeing 747-8I by 2015, with the 5 remaining aircraft on order coming later (in addition to which 20 options may be exercised).
The retirement of some of the oldest 747-400 in the fleet, specifically the 15 aircraft deployed for service between 1989 and 1992 now appears likely.
With the 15% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (per passenger) made possible by the GEnx-2B67 engines, Lufthansa is entering a new realm of improved operating economics initially on routes from Frankfurt to Washington D. C, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chicago and Los Angeles.