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Lufthansa Flies to Profits

German air carrier Lufthansa, Europe's third largest airline, reported that it will return to profit this year after record losses in 2003 of €984 million ($1.19 billion). A cost-cutting program helped the company get out of the red, according to Chief Executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber, who spoke at a press conference in Frankfurt on Thursday. Lufthansa has already saved €234 million of its goal of €430 million in savings this year. The company forecasts a better 2004 after having been hit by last year's Iraq war, the SARS epidemic and fears of terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. Mayrhuber's saving plan envisions cost-cutting of around €1.2 billion and cutting 2,000 more jobs by 2005. A hiring freeze instituted by the company has already cut 3,600 jobs. Increased competition from budget carriers had hit Lufthansa's bottom line. The company said it plans to increase its stake in lower-cost airlines, such as Eurowings, to face the threat posed by the discount carriers.