Why Hong Kong Will Get A New A380 Route

Hong Kong is a pretty strong A380 market, with A380s operating to Hong Kong from London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Dubai, etc.. I was fortunate to fly Lufthansa’s A380 in business class from Frankfurt to Hong Kong back in February, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

img_5483Lufthansa Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

Lufthansa operates to Hong Kong from both their hubs – Frankfurt to Hong Kong operates daily on an A380, and Munich to Hong Kong operates daily on an A340. However, it looks like Hong Kong is about to get another A380.

The Reason Behind Hong Kong’s New A380

Frankfurt is one of the most expensive airports in Europe, at least when it comes to slot deals. Low-cost airline Ryanair was really happy to get a 50% deal on these slots, so they tripled the number of slots that they own at Frankfurt. Lufthansa’s relationship with Frankfurt Airport started to dip when Frankfurt Airport (somewhat surprisingly) approved Ryanair’s slot request.

As per German paper The Local:

Lufthansa’s relationship with Frankfurt airport, its home base located in western Hesse state, has entered a turbulent patch this year.

Executives were angered when Fraport agreed to host competitors including no-frills airline Ryanair at a discounted rate at Germany’s largest air hub.

Lufthansa, one of Fraport’s biggest and longest-lasting customers, has tried to negotiate a similar deal for itself – so far without success.

In response, it warned that it would divert more investments to other hubs, in Munich, Vienna and Zurich.

“There is no direct connection [to the Ryanair dispute] but of course growth will happen where the best conditions are, and costs are of course a factor,” a Lufthansa spokesman told AFP, adding that the airline was enjoying “very strong growth” in Munich.

“We regret Lufthansa’s decision and think that it’s the wrong one,” a Fraport spokesman told German news agency DPA, adding that the airline’s decision showed the airport must be open to other carriers.

Due to the turbulent relations between Lufthansa and Frankfurt Airport, Lufthansa decided to move to their other hubs – their own Munich, Austrian’s Vienna and Swiss’ Zurich, and decided to build upon these separate hubs. As part of this move, Lufthansa decided to move five of their A380s to Munich, where they’ll be operating rather high yield routes. This is quite an extension of Munich’s Lufthansa hub, as they currently don’t operate any A380s out of Munich.

Hong Kong was on Lufthansa’s list of where to dispatch the A380 – I haven’t flown between Hong Kong and Munich on Lufthansa, but my flight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong on Lufthansa’s A380 was full, so I’m not expecting Lufthansa to take the A380 off that route.

img_1838Lufthansa will work on expanding Swiss’ Zurich hub in response to Frankfurt Airport’s actions

I’m guessing that Frankfurt to Delhi’s A380 route will definitely go, since I’ve heard reports that some of their planes go out almost empty. What we’re left wondering is what other routes will be affected as well, though my prediction is that Frankfurt to Hong Kong’s A380 route will not be one of them.

img_5493Lufthansa Airbus A380-800 Economy Class

What does this mean for Munich to Hong Kong flyers?

As per Lufthansa’s memos, their A340 running the Munich to Hong Kong route will switch to a bigger A380 starting next summer, which will establish Munich as a bigger hub. Other suggested cities include Beijing and Los Angeles.

IMG_6651Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 Hong Kong Airport

There are a few implications that affect everyone planning to travel between these cities in the far future, ranging across all cabins.

First class will feature the same seats, though passengers will benefit from upgraded perks, including a locker for each passenger, as well as a urinal in the bathroom.

img_5622Lufthansa Airbus A380 First Class Cabin

img_5620Lufthansa Airbus A380 First Class Lavatory

Business class will also feature the same seats, though passengers will benefit from an extra side storage bin. Overall, though, I wouldn’t consider the change revolutionary by any means.

Lufthansa Airbus A380 Business Class Cabin

Premium economy will be in a 2-4-2 configuration instead of a 2-3-2 configuration, though on the plus side, they will benefit from their own cabin (on the A340, only partitions separate premium economy from economy).

However, a majority of economy flyers will be bothered by the 3-4-3 configuration on the lower deck, which is more cramped than the 2-4-2 configuration that you’d find on the A340. Of course, that’s a moot point if you’re travelling on the upper deck, but I doubt you’d be so lucky. On the plus side, the A380’s seats are a little more pimped out.

img_5548Lufthansa Airbus A380-800 Economy Class 

Bottom Line

Overall, I’m excited to see Munich increasing as a hub, as it’s definitely a growing city both in terms of tourism and business. I doubt Lufthansa will pull out from Frankfurt entirely, as they’re more likely to accept their differences and keep expanding themselves as one of the strongest airline hubs out there (if you doubt, that, look at the Lufthansa branding in Frankfurt’s A/Z terminal).

img_5384Lufthansa Branding Frankfurt Airport

If Hong Kong does indeed get the A380 from Munich, I’d be excited to see if it performs as well as it did on the Frankfurt route. The A380 isn’t a plane that’s wanted so much by airlines, but as air travel increases, it definitely will be a pivotal in the future – if it survives.

Anyone thinking of traveling from Munich to Beijing, Hong Kong or Los Angeles in the far future?

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