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Business

Lufthansa Optimistic, Despite Fuel Costs

Lufthansa, Europe's third-biggest airline, said Wednesday it still aimed to match last year's operating profit this year, despite high fuel costs and the cost of integrating ailing rival Swiss, which it recently acquired. "The global air traffic industry remains in a difficult situation," the German flag carrier wrote in its interim report. "Excess capacities are leading to persistent pressure on average yields. In addition, we now assume that fuel prices still stay at a high level." In concrete terms, the German airline's fuel bill could amount to 2.5 billion euros ($3.2 billion) this year, 300 million euros more than originally budgeted, chief financial officer Karl-Ludwig Kley told a telephone news conference. Higher fuel costs are pushing other airlines around the world into trouble, with US carrier Delta Air Lines warning this week that its cash reserves may not prove enough to stave off collapse in the coming months. Still, Lufthansa intended to offset its additional burdens "via targeted capacity management" and continued cost-cutting, it said. "Against this background, we expect to be able to post full-year operating profit on a par with last year's figure," the airline said. In 2004, Lufthansa booked operating profit of 383 million euros.

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