Lufthansa: from 737 launch customer to an unexpected return of the Boeing jet to the group’s fleet

German company announced the order of 40 737 MAX 8 jets in addition to 60 purchase options, but aircraft should be used by its affiliates from 2027

The announcement of the choice of the Airbus A220 to make up the City Airlines fleet was expected by the market, while the order for up to 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by Lufthansa was surprising.

The German group had already ceased to be an operator of the aircraft since 2016 and had not received a new jet of the type for almost three decades.

Even stranger is that Lufthansa has not yet decided which of its airlines will receive the new 737, the first jet of which will only be delivered in the third quarter of 2027.

The company, however, has already announced that the 737-8 will not receive the colors of City Airlines, Swiss and Lufthansa itself, which already have orders for Airbus aircraft in their fleet renewal plan.

The final 737-300 was retired from Lufthansa in 2016 (Johannes)

Therefore, the return of the 737 to Lufthansa is an unlikely event, possibly motivated by the potential shortage of new and more efficient aircraft in the coming years.

Several of the world’s major carriers, as well as powerful lessors, have been rushing to reserve slots on the increasingly congested assembly lines of Airbus and Boeing.

Faced with a scenario like this and knowing the growing demand for air travel, there seems to be no other alternative than to guarantee a place in line, to the delight of aircraft manufacturers.

The first Boeing 737-100 arrived at Lufthansa (Boeing)

737 launch customer in the 60s

Lufthansa has a rare standardization of narrow-body aircraft, with almost 430 A320 family jets in service across its various affiliates.

Therefore, the entry of the 737 MAX into its fleet will have a small impact compared to the ubiquity of the Airbus rival.

It is a very different situation from almost six decades ago when Lufthansa became the launch customer of an aircraft that at the time did not cause much excitement.

Taking advantage of the 727’s front fuselage and with Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines under the wings, the Boeing 737-100 was a jet with a small capacity, for around 100 passengers.

Lufthansa was the launch customer of the Boeing 737 (Boeing)

The proposal attracted Lufthansa, which ordered 21 of them, having received the world’s first 737 in February 1968.

Soon Boeing developed the 737-200, with greater passenger capacity and improved performance, and the German airline also became interested in it, with 47 aircraft received by 1985.

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Lufthansa also maintained the tradition of having 737s in its fleet by ordering the three versions of the classic series (-300, -400 and -500). But then the company turned to the rival A320 and the career of the Boeing jet had a break in the German group.

It is still too early to say that we will not see a 737 MAX in Lufthansa colors, but with a potential 100 aircraft in the order book, the hypothesis cannot be ruled out.


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