Lufthansa warns on possible 747-8I deferrals

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Lufthansa has warned that its Boeing 747-8 ramp-up could be slowed if the airline cannot achieve its efficiency and cash-flow improvements over the next two years, which may prompt it to defer deliveries.

The German airline has 20 747-8Is on order, which are due to be delivered at a rate of five a year through to 2015. However Lufthansa has launched its €1.5 billion "Score" efficiency programme, with the target of raising sales by €300 million and cutting costs by €600 million. The success of this effort will determine the fortunes of the airline's delivery schedules, including that of the 747-8I, says chief executive of Lufthansa's passenger division, Carsten Spohr.

"We have 160 aircraft on order which we will receive and the way we control our growth is by retiring more old aircraft than planned," he said, speaking at the delivery ceremony for the first 747-8I in Frankfurt on 2 May. "The number of aircraft in Lufthansa will not grow - it's 404 now and that will not increase over the next two-and-a-half years."

The airline's General Electric GEnx-powered 747-8Is are slated to replace its 30 747-400s, the first of which has already been retired.

But Spohr warns that if the required efficiency improvements and cash-flow increases cannot be achieved, it may be forced to defer new deliveries. "If we find out with the fuel prices where they are and the current [business] environment we're getting short [of target], we might have to delay some deliveries - it's not our plan though."