By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE (Reuters) - The head of Deutsche Lufthansa AG's
"On all our in-service fleet, even those in our fleet 10 years, we are never happy with the weight situation, so we are always trying to reduce weight in order to save even more fuel," said Nico Buchholz, executive vice president of group fleet management at Lufthansa, speaking at a Boeing plant north of Seattle.
"But the 747, we have planned it for certain missions, we will do those missions and we will do the missions as we planned them," said Buchholz, speaking to reporters as Lufthansa prepared to fly away the first commercial 747-8 that it officially took delivery of last week.
"Yes, we are satisfied, otherwise we wouldn't have signed the acceptance of the aircraft," said Buchholz, one of the world's most powerful airplane buyers.
The German flag carrier is the first commercial airline to deploy the new 747-8 Intercontinental, an upgraded, elongated version of the classic 747, and Boeing's biggest passenger plane. Lufthansa will use the 747 on long-range, intercontinental routes, putting the first one into service between Frankfurt and Washington DC.
The plane is several tonnes heavier than Boeing's original target, which generally increases fuel costs. The plane maker said in February it plans to hit its original weight target by 2014.
"Yes, it is a bit overweight, there's no secret about that, but is that impacting any of our operations? No.", Buchholz told Reuters after a media conference. "Certain things are better than Boeing promised. When I look at all the elements combined as an aircraft, that's when I say the aircraft does what we want it do and does it the way we want it to do."
Boeing has not pulled in the orders for the new 747 that it hoped since putting it on sale six years ago, and is well behind Airbus'
As of Tuesday, it had only 36 orders for the passenger version, 20 of those from Lufthansa. So far it has delivered two passenger 747-8s to private buyers and one to Lufthansa.
The freighter version of the 747-8 has fared better, with 70 orders so far.
(Reporting By Bill Rigby. Additional reporting by Kyle Peterson in Chicago; Editing by M.D. Golan)