Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the first operator of Airbus Group SE’s troubled A320neo jetliner, is placing conditions on taking delivery of more of the planes this year after holding back on putting its second into service.
Lufthansa will take formal delivery of its latest Neo “in coming days,” spokeswoman Anja Lindenstein said Monday. That would be about six weeks after a handover ceremony for the aircraft in Hamburg on Feb. 12. Like the first, the second plane will be restricted to routes within Germany so that it’s within easy reach of technicians amid concerns about an engine glitch.
Lufthansa is set to receive three more A320neos this year, one in the summer and two in the fall. Lindenstein didn’t specify the airline’s conditions for taking the planes.
The German carrier became the first to deploy the re-engined version of Airbus’s best-seller after problems with the plane’s Pratt & Whitney turbines caused Qatar Airways to refuse delivery. Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said last week that the German airline will be getting compensation from Airbus for the current operating restrictions. Cooling issues mean operators may be required to run the engine before startup in order modulate the temperature.
While Lufthansa is prepared to operate two planes solely on domestic routes for now, Lindenstein said that it “cannot have more aircraft flying with these restrictions given our extensive network.”
The first plane is being used mainly between Frankfurt and Hamburg, with two daily return flights, Johannes Bussmann, head of Lufthansa’s maintenance arm, said Monday at a press event in Hamburg. A software fix from Pratt is “in the works,” and there has been “enormous progress” in eliminating superfluous error messages, he said.
Lufthansa has a total of 116 A320neos on order. Switching to the alternative LEAP engine from the CFM International venture of General Electric Co. and Snecma is not an option, Bussmann said.