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Lufthansa lashes out at speculators

BERLIN, June 10 – The head of Germany\’s flag carrier airline, Lufthansa, took aim on Wednesday at financial market speculators he said were responsible for a volatile oil price that is hammering the airline industry.

In an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland, Wolfgang Mayrhuber said: "Financial speculators now have an enormous influence on our business."

Calling for stricter regulation, he added: "The old rule whereby supply and demand dictated the price of a certain raw material no longer applies."

The price of a barrel of oil shot up at an unprecedented rate last year to touch a peak of around 147 dollars (104 euros) before plunging as the global economy tumbled into recession.

But in the past three months, the price has begun to climb once more, rising from 47 dollars to 70 dollars.

"If the price continues to climb, it will increase the pressure on our sector and make it very difficult for us to reach our targets for 2009," Mayrhuber said.

Lufthansa is one of the few firms in the troubled aviation sector still expecting to stay in the black this year.

In April, the company said it should "maintain a significantly positive operating result, even in this environment."

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