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Business

Lufthansa to Start Restoring Capacity

The German national carrier is set to reactivate a large number of aircraft it took out of service after Sept. 11, fueling hopes that a recovery on the European aviation market will kick in sooner than expected.

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Are the clouds clearing?

Six months after the terrorist attacks in the United States that triggered a slump in the aviation industry around the world, German national carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG is again boosting the number of its flights and aircraft.

As a result of Sept. 11, Lufthansa took 43 aircraft out of operation. But according to information obtained by Handelsblatt, it plans to bring a two-digit number of aircraft back into service with the start of its summer timetable.

People close to the company said that as many as 26 aircraft could be reactivated. Moreover, the number of Lufthansa services to the United States is to be increased beginning March 31, when its summer timetable starts. The airline's general employment freeze for cabin and ground staff has also been lifted.

Earlier, Dutch national carrier KLM announced that it plans to restore a number of its services back to their previous level of frequency, adding to hopes that the slump in Europe's aviation industry will come to an end sooner than expected.

A Lufthansa spokesman confirmed that the airline will boost the frequency of its connections to the United States by more than 40 percent from the winter timetable. But their frequency will still be 10 percent below that of the 2001 summer timetable. According to group chairman Jürgen Weber, Lufthansa's load factor has moved close to levels one year ago, albeit on the basis of a much reduced number of seats.

The airline had also noted improvements in bookings, in particular on intercontinental flights to Asia. But business travel on European routes continues to be slow.

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