More formally, that would be D-ABYA, Lufthansa's initial 747-8 Intercontinental, the newest model of Boeing's long-serving 747 line; the German flag carrier was the launch customer for the passenger version. And in a nice acknowledgement of history, Lufthansa has chosen to re-use the same registration for this aircraft that was assigned to the carrier's first 747, a -100 model, delivered in 1970.
Lufthansa has been an extensive user of Boeing jetliners, having operated the 707, 720B, 727, 737 (and yes, LH was the launch customer for what is, to date, the world's most successful commercial aircraft program) and 747. (Former charter subsidiary Condor operated the 757 and 767, as well.) An early piece of Lufthansa 747 publicity material noted that "Lufthansa mechanics are familiar with 747-engineering. They are, in fact, Boeing-specialists having handled the 707, the 727, the 737 and, now the 747 - after all, Lufthansa-Jets are Boeings exclusively." Of course, by the time of the 747-8's inaugural, that was no longer true, as Airbus products comprise a significant portion of the carrier's fleet today, including the world's-largest airliner, the A380. In addition, the fleet now includes equipment from Avro, ATR, Bombardier, and Embraer, plus McDonnell-Douglas, if freighter aircraft are included.
The original Yankee Alpha (the last two letters of the registration) came into a different world when it entered service 42 years ago. It had a capacity of 365 seats in a two-class (first and economy) configuration. In a commentary on differences between then and now, business class passengers today often have access to seats that become lie-flat beds; in its original configuration, Lufthansa's original 747 had first class seats that were essentially large chairs that reclined to a reasonable degree, and, far from becoming beds, did not have integral leg rests. Economy, on the other hand, featured only nine-abreast seating, and I suspect that I'm not alone in longing for a return of the relatively comfortable seat pitch (distance between the seat rows) that was used by IATA (International Air Transport Association) airlines at the time. Interestingly, there was a "Quiet Zone" (no movies) right behind the F seats; also, the modestly-sized no-smoking section was wedged between larger sections that permitted the use of tobacco products. Finally, the brochure notes that the purchase price was $22.3 million -- a figure that wouldn't get you a 737 now!!
As one of only three 747-100s in the German flag carrier's fleet, -YA had a relatively brief tenure as a Lufthansa aircraft. Beginning with 1971 deliveries, the airline began acquiring the higher-performance 200 model (including the very first 747 freighter), and by 1978 it was out of the fleet (in 1979, the remaining -100, -YC, went to Aer Lingus, while -YB had been lost in an accident at Nairobi in 1974). After its Lufthansa career, MSN (Manufacturer's Serial Number) 19746 served with a variety of other airlines, most for only short periods of time, including Braniff; VIASA of Venezuela; U.S. former 'supplemental' airline Overseas National; Egyptair; and Transamerica Airlines, prior to being acquired by Tower Air in late 1985. During its period of Tower Ownership the former D-ABYA also was leased to Zambia Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines; of the six historically-inhabited continents, the aircraft missed only Australia in terms of the headquarters locations of the carriers that it served. In 2001, it was scrapped, 31 years after it was delivered.
Will there be another D-ABYA entering Lufthansa's fleet in another 40 years or so? If the latest version has a service life of similar length as its predecessor, it will be flying (with someone) until beyond 2040. That's about 75 years from the date of the launch order for the 747, in 1966. When the 747 was launched, it had only been 63 years since the advent of powered flight, in 1903. So, is there any chance that a third version of D-ABYB might be another future variant of the 747? I suspect not, but only time will tell.