ERA 2006: Fuel crunch helps Lufthansa choose capacity over frequency

 - September 13, 2006, 5:11 AM

Lufthansa CityLine has begun operating the first of 12 new 84-seat Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets that by year-end will replace its ten 50-seat CRJ200s. With no prospect of oil prices falling, the German carrier is looking for the sort of fuel economics normally available only from long-haul widebody operations. In optimal conditions with a full cabin, it expects to burn 3.5 liters of jet-A per passenger per 100 km (less than one gallon per 54 nm).

The Cologne-based operator inaugurated the first CRJ900 service with a flight to the North Sea resort of Westerland/Sylt on August 11. The aircraft will also fly to destinations such as Munich and Munster/Osnabruck in Germany, as well as Brussels, Belgium; Oslo, Norway; Geneva and the French cities of Lyon and Nice. The new jets join a fleet that, along with the CRJ200s slated for removal, consists of thirty-three 50-seat CRJ100s, twenty 70-seat CRJ700s and eighteen 93-seat British Aerospace Avro RJ85s.

According to Lufthansa CityLine managing director Dr. Thomas Dräger, the operator opted for the largest CRJ also because of its environmental performance. The aircraft is more than 6 EPNdBs quieter than future Stage 4 limits. And with European airlines bracing themselves to have to start emissions trading between 2010 and 2012, Lufthansa is mindful of the fact that the CRJ900’s General Electric CF34-8C5 engines run well within the International Civil Aviation Organization’s existing CAEP 6 limits and expected future restrictions for both carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxides from nitrogen (NOx).

With six fewer seats than the CRJ900’s maximum 90-seat capacity, the Lufthansa CityLine aircraft are significantly more spacious than the CRJ200s they are replacing. The cabins feature the latest interior design for Lufthansa’s European fleet, including spacious bins for carry-on baggage.

Last year, Lufthansa CityLine carried about 6.5 million passengers and it now employs 2,500 people. It is part of the German flag carrier’s Lufthansa Regional network, which includes partner operators Augsburg Airways, Contact Air and Eurowings, as well as Italy’s Air Dolomiti.

The CRJ900 entered service in 2003 with Mesa Airlines. The twinjet also now operates with Arik Air (Nigeria), Air Nostrum (Spain), Atlasjet Airlines (Turkey), Air One (Italy), MAT Macedonian Airlines, SkyWest (U.S.) and Air Canada Jazz.