Room Remains on Trans-Atlantic Air Routes Despite Weak Dollar | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 05.04.2008
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Room Remains on Trans-Atlantic Air Routes Despite Weak Dollar

The weakening of the US dollar against other currencies, in particularly the euro, has prompted a rise in the number of passengers traveling on trans-Atlantic flights. Still, airliners say there is room onboard.

A plane taking off

Lufthansa: "Demand is growing constantly"

As the US dollar has fallen over past months, many airlines have seen their passenger numbers on trans-Atlantic routes rise.

Compared to this time last year, seat occupancy rates have risen from 80 percent to 88 percent, Werner Claasen, spokesman for United Airlines in Frankfurt, told the German DPA news service.

Delta Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Berlin and KLM/Northwest have reported similar figures, DPA noted.

But, in a survey conducted by the news agency, travelers can still secure a space for flying to the United States from Europe during summer months.

Plane taking off into pink sky

Travelers can still find a spot on tran-Atlantic routes this summer, airliners say

According to the Visit USA Committee, 1.5 million people traveled to the US from Germany alone in 2007. But, while the number of passengers traveling from Europe continues to increase, the number of US citizens flying to the European continent has remained the same.

Business travelers have also contributed to keeping passenger figures relatively constant, the organization said.

Up, up and away

While discounter airline Air Berlin told DPA that "there are still some discount seats available between Dusseldorf and New York," even seats at normal prices are quickly filling up on the airline's other routes.

German airline Lufthansa said only its low-cost seats are completely booked out, and travelers can still find inexpensive last-minute economy class tickets as long as they are not around the holidays, Claasen added.

Other carriers still have free capacity to the popular destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, DPA reported.

Still, while rising fuel costs are having an affect, Claasen said the increased demand is not forcing prices up due to stiff competition between the airlines.

Aerial view of part of Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt: one of Europe's busiest airports

Anke Guenther, a tour operator at Dertour in Frankfurt, which specializes in travel to the US, said even as early as March, her company had registered an 18-percent increase in bookings compared to last year.

Ever more flights to the US

Despite the terrorist attacks of on Sept. 11, 2001, airlines say that passenger numbers have been steadily rising. United Airlines, for instance, has carried ever greater numbers of passengers for the past three years.

"We've been expanding our network constantly," Claasen told DPA, pointing out that from Germany alone, the carrier had increased capacity from 800,000 seats a year to 1.2 million.

Jachnow said the same about Lufthansa: "Demand is going up constantly."

The German carrier has likewise boosted capacity, offering 260 flights a week this summer from Germany to 19 US destinations.

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