December 07, 2006

Lufthansa Buys 20 747s

Lufthansa 747 D-ABVU, originally uploaded by caribb.

Well, this isn't a business blog, but since I run the stupid thing, I get to write about what I want to write about.

I've always loved flying, and aircraft. And I've basically grown up with the Boeing 747
Not that I flew when it entered service in 1970. We weren't exactly a wealthy family, and the closest I got to setting foot in one of these things then was the observation deck at Kennedy Airport

When relatives came to visit from Ireland, they flew on these proud aircraft. Now, Aer Lingus flits with their generic Airbuses, which zip to the gate unnoticed at JFK. Even in the scrapyard in Arizona, their "St. Kiernan" 747 has more dignity in its desert afterlife than every Airbus ever built. You'll never hear comments like this when their Air buses retire.

I first flew the 747 in the 1980s, on Pan Am to Europe before Pan Am became Pan Am sadly ceased to be. And then a long gap until September 2005 when I made my little trip to Vietnam on Eva Air, the Taiwanese airline. I flew their 747 Newark-Seattle-Taipei, then another 747 to Saigon. Then it was one 747 from Hanoi to Taipei, then another from Taipei-Seattle then on to Newark. All over again, I appreciated the majesty of these planes. Flew across the world and back, and never a moment of discomfort. Air turbulence doesn't rattle this beautiful craft.

So imagine how I felt when I heard that the mighty Lufthansa has agreed to buy 20 of the newest generation of the plane, the 747-8. The 747 nearly went out of production a couple of years ago. The Airbus A380, a ugly catastrophe of a thing that seats 8000 passengers or something was supposed to be the wave of the future.

But now the A380 is trapped in a swamp of delay and engineering problems, while the 747 has been modernized with fuel efficient engines. As
Boeingsays in their specs:"Operating economics will offer a significant improvement over the A380. The 747-8 is more than 11 percent lighter per seat than the A380 and will consume 10 percent less fuel per passenger than the 555-seat airplane. That translates into a trip-cost reduction of 19 percent and a seat-mile cost reduction of more than 3 percent, compared to the A380." This modern version of the venerable craft does all this with a range of 8000 nautical miles. And looks good doing it.

An Airbus hack was quoted in the press saying that the 747 was just a "modernized Essel" or something like that. Huh? It's more fuel-efficient and generally costs less and its supposed to be the lesser aircraft?

The Germans are known for their engineering excellence. They studied this nine ways to Sunday, and bought the magnificent 747. A plane whose life has just begun. Long live the 747


Anonymous said...

Edsel? What a moron! The Edsel never sold whereas the 747 was the top plane in its class for what? 30 years? Great to see it back and modernized. I can't wait until Aer Lingus buys a couple of these new planes. The Airbus purchase was forced on Aer Lingus by the EU which only allowed the government to bail out the airline if it bought Airbus. Nowadays Aer Lingus is profitable and can buy as it pleases.

The Phantom said...

Some interesting comments to be found here

My favorite: "Lufthansa became a blue chip airliner for a reason: it's commitment to customer orientation and profitable growth. It would never make a multi-$billion purchase without extensive detailed analysis to reach a well-evaluated decision.

I asked my dad about this Edsel remark from the Airbus North America chairman, and he says that Airbus actually insulted Lufthansa more than anything else."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're right that the Edsel comment is more of an insult to Lufthansa than Boeing.

My father always maintained that the Edsel wasn't a bad car, just totally unfashionable. It has to be said, however, that my father always loved cars that were 'not in fashion'. For years we owned a 1969 Chevy Greenbrier station wagon, Olive green, with "three on tree" rather than an automatic transmission.

Anonymous said...

I see what you're saying about the comments. I didn't read them all, but read enough to find out that the guy who made those comments is a retired USAF General. Interesting.

The Boeing vs Airbus arguments are all along the wrong lines as far as I'm concerned. The problem with Airbus is that it's a multi-government owned and run project. Boeing is only vaguely commercial because of its size, but it's more commercial than Airbus.