By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said on Thursday the German airline strongly backs U.S. airplane manufacturer Boeing Co, which has faced criticism over program delays.
Earlier this month, Lufthansa said it would buy 10 cargo planes including seven of the 777X version, also known as 777-8F, and boosted its order for Boeing 787s.
“Boeing as a symbol of America will get back to its feet,” Spohr said at a luncheon speech in Washington. He added to airline officials in attendance, “It’s a good time to negotiate prices with Boeing right now.”
Spohr said Lufthansa’s order came “at a time that Boeing is obviously going through some trouble.”
Noting that he has been asked why Lufthansa “so blindly believe in Boeing” while others have canceled orders or given up on delivery dates, Spohr said his answer was that the airline’s employees “believe in Boeing as a company.” He compared Boeing to the United States’ getting back on its feet after various crises in past decades.
Boeing has faced delays in some programs and concerns about whether it will win regulatory approval for the 737-MAX 10 ahead of a key December deadline.
Last month, Boeing announced it was halting 777X production through 2023 due to a fresh delay in its entry into service after certification problems and weak demand. Boeing confirmed a delay in handing over the first 777X jet to 2025, from the previous target of late 2023.
Lufthansa is seeing extremely strong summer travel demand. Spohr said the carrier’s most expensive ticket for sale now is a $24,000 first-class round-trip ticket San Francisco-to-Frankfurt. “And we’re sold out,” Spohr said.
He said the airline is not giving a full-year outlook because of the uncertainty of fuel prices, inflation and the potential of recession. “There are many more question marks for the rest of the year,” Spohr said.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)