Lufthansa aims to buy "several dozen" long-range twinjets

BARCELONA, April 9 Tue Apr 9, 2013 12:01pm EDT

BARCELONA, April 9 (Reuters) - Weeks after approving $12 billion in plane orders, Lufthansa is studying a further purchase of "several dozen" long-distance twin-engined jets as it continues to modernize its fleet, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

Germany's flag carrier last month approved purchases of 108 aircraft, dominated by a 100-plane order for medium-haul planes awarded to European jetmaker Airbus.

"We have addressed the large-capacity single-aisle requirement and also have the top end of the spectrum with the A380 and 747-8 pretty well covered," Nico Buchholz, executive vice president of group fleet management, told Reuters.

"We will be focusing next on the 200-300 seat segment with the aim of making a decision by the end of the year," he said.

"The total size of our fleet operated in that segment is around 100 aircraft. We wouldn't replace all of them at once. We are always conservative with our orders and don't like to overcommit," he said in an interview on the sidelines of an AFCA air finance conference.

Lufthansa's options include Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Airbus A350 and Boeing 777s for the order, which is likely to be fiercely contested between the leading plane manufacturers.

"We have not yet decided how many aircraft would be involved," Buchholz said, but agreed with a suggestion it could be "several dozen" jets.

Such a volume implies an order potentially worth around $10 billion at catalogue prices but airlines usually negotiate significant discounts.

The Lufthansa group, which includes SWISS and Austrian Airlines, has a reputation for exhaustive technical analysis and is seen as a key battleground as Airbus and Boeing vie for advantage in one of the most lucrative parts of the market.

Europe's largest airline group aims to update a varied fleet including some ageing Airbus A340 and Boeing 767 planes.

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