Lufthansa is the launch customer of the new Boeing “Queen of the Skies,” which is a new generation of the landmark 747-400 that has enhanced features such as improved fuel efficiency, reduced noise and a higher number of business-class seats.
When the plane landed, an Israeli flag was flown from the cockpit window and the aircraft was sprayed with water from two trucks, an aviation tradition to mark events of special significance.
Lufthansa’s 747-8 flight to Israel was a road-show exhibition of the new plane, not a regular commercial flight, and Lufthansa does not anticipate using the plane on its routes from Germany to Tel Aviv.
The German carrier currently uses the wide-bodied plane for its long-haul routes to San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, Hong Kong, Bangalore and Delhi, said Carsten Shaeffer, Lufthansa’s vice president of sales and service for the region. The short flights to Tel Aviv do not justify its use from an economic perspective, he said.
Shaeffer said he was very proud to showcase the latest addition to Lufthansa’s fleet in Israel, adding that Israel was a key market for the airline.
Lufthansa was focused on adding more frequency to the Frankfurt-Tel Aviv route under the Open Skies Agreement between Israel and Europe, Shaeffer said. It wants to increase the number of flights between the two cities from two to three per day, he said.
The aircraft features 80 premium seats in business class and eight in first class. The business-class seat features a full, flat horizontal bed, which was very comfortable.
Lufthansa said it has invested three billion euros in the plane’s business-class product.
The 747-8 landing in Tel Aviv had special significance for Ben-Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai, the airport’s managing director, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“The fact that this plane landed here today is recognition that Ben-Gurion Airport is prepared to receive such large jets from an aviation regulations standpoint,” he said.
Lufthansa is one of the most important carriers for the airport and provides an “air bridge from Israel to Europe,” he added.
The pilots, Captain Heyen Andreas and First Officer Yaniv Emanuel, both said flying the 747-8 had the same feeling as flying the 747-400.
The jet was “the most beautiful aircraft,” Andreas said.
Emanuel, an Israeli pilot who has been flying for Lufthansa for 13 years, flew especially for the celebratory flight to Tel Aviv.
“It is very exciting to come to Israel with this plane,” he said.
This reporter was a guest of the airline on Flight LH 9883 to Frankfurt.