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Lufthansa to Buy 15 Airbus Planes

December 6, 2001

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Lufthansa’s supervisory board has approved an order of 15 Airbus A380 jumbo jets, a decision it had put on ice as passenger numbers dropped after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, the airline said Thursday.

``With this decision, we are signaling a future-oriented investment, which will help strengthen Lufthansa’s position long term in international competition,″ chief executive Juergen Weber said in a statement.

Lufthansa said the order, made during an industry crisis, represents a strategic investment. The first aircraft will be delivered in the third quarter of 2007, it added.

In September, the board decided to freeze discussions on purchasing the A380s as well as four Boeing 747-400 jets. The A380, slated to enter service in 2006, would be the largest passenger plane ever, with 555 seats in a typical three-class layout.

The A380 is designed to compete with the Boeing 747, which has more than 400 seats.

Some airline analysts have questioned whether the industry needs such a big jet, and whether Airbus will make enough money on the plane to justify its development costs, estimated at over $10 billion. Its list price is $250 million, but launch purchasers are expected to get substantial discounts.

Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht declined to comment on the financial terms of the Lufthansa order, saying only that ``it’s a good deal for both sides.″ She said a definitive order should be signed within weeks.

Airbus says it’s confident that the airline business will revive by the time the plane comes into service, and that the plane is the best solution for increasingly crowded long-haul routes.

Lufthansa says its passenger traffic has dropped 20 percent since the attacks on New York and Washington. The company has idled 43 aircraft and dropped some of its less-traveled routes to cut costs.

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