The "Herborn" brings the total number of aircraft named after German cities and states to over 300. This naming convention has a long tradition at Lufthansa. The first Lufthansa aircraft was named in 1960 (see inset). The idea was to express the company's solidarity with its German homeland – not just with the major hubs and cities but also with the regions where a large portion of Lufthansa passengers and employees come from.
But 50 years later, the airline operates a much larger network. The increasing number of passengers from all over the world share a key Lufthansa characteristic – internationality. This is why the Airbus A380 will also bear the names of major international cities such as Beijing, Zurich and Johannesburg.
The size of the waiting list is a clear sign that there is still great interest in aircraft naming – even after 50 years. Lufthansa currently holds applications from 245 interested cities and the demand has led to extended waiting times of between 10 and 15 years. The name of your city on the body of a Lufthansa aircraft is still a desirable symbol.
The tradition of aircraft naming began on September 16, 1960 with the naming of the "Berlin" by the then mayor, Willy Brandt, who was later to become Chancellor of Germany. Five years after the refounding of the airline with its "crane" symbol, a Lufthansa aircraft began taking the name of a German city to all parts of the world. Over the next fifty years, the name "Berlin" would be passed on to five modern wide-bodied aircraft. At the present time an Airbus A380 bears the name of the German capital. The Lufthansa flagship was named at Berlin Tegel Airport by the mayor, Klaus Wowereit, in 2012. The "Berlin" now flies under the call sign "Mike India" along the east and west coasts of North America and to major cities in the Far East.
When choosing names, Lufthansa is guided by the historical, social and economic relevance of the place. Cities may be considered if they have a special connection with aviation or with Lufthansa.
Size, on the other hand, is unimportant. Nevertheless, when choosing names, Lufthansa generally tries to match the population of the place to the size of the aircraft. A Boeing 747-8 carries the name "Brandenburg," for example, and an Airbus A321 carries the name "Stade" all over the world.
So what happens when an aircraft is taken out of service? The towns and cities in question can relax, because aircraft naming has become an enduring tradition at Lufthansa. In other words, once a town has been accepted into the inner circle and had an aircraft named after it, the name is transferred to a new aircraft when the old one is taken out of the Lufthansa fleet. The motto is "Once Lufthansa, always Lufthansa".
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