Lufthansa Turns to 747 Jumbos as German Tourists Flood Mallorca

The aircraft that broke down the door to intercontinental flying for the masses has a new mission: lugging as many German tourists as possible on the short-haul hop to Mallorca.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG will deploy 364-seat Boeing Co. 747-8s on two-hour trips from Frankfurt after looser coronavirus curbs spurred bookings 25-fold since April, it said Friday. The jet will ply the route for four straight Saturdays starting July 17, with an Airbus SE A350 wide-body flying from Munich.

Lufthansa’s 747s typically carry travelers to far-flung destinations like Tokyo and Los Angeles, leaving smaller aircraft like the Airbus A321, fitted out to carry 215 people, to ferry Germans to Mediterranean holiday destinations.

It’s not the first time giant planes have been drafted onto shorter routes, with Air France using Airbus A380s to shuttle 500 people between Paris and London in 2010 and Gulf giant Emirates deploying the superjumbo on 40-minute hops between Dubai and Oman before the pandemic. British Airways has also looked at serving Greece with its biggest planes should U.K. restrictions be eased.

While carriers including BA and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. retired their 747s when the virus hit, focusing on two-engine models, it’s not clear how long Lufthansa will continue to operate jet dubbed Queen of the Skies. The carrier removed older 747-400s and most A380s but kept the upgraded 747-8s -- of which it’s the No. 1 passenger operator -- some of them only six years old.

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