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Lufthansa backs Star Alliance project in Africa

FRANKFURT, Sep 30 – African airlines in the Star Alliance want to develop services to west Africa and could get support from Lufthansa, the German carrier\’s next head said on Thursday in an interview.

Star Alliance, which includes Continental, Egypt Airways, South African Airways, Thai, United Airlines and US Airways, said Wednesday that Ethiopian Airlines would become its newest member.

The three African carriers are mulling a joint subsidiary to cover western Africa, a project to which Lufthansa extends "lots of goodwill," Christoph Franz told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Franz is to take over as Lufthansa boss on January 1, and he said the German flag carrier could consider "financial support in a certain measure" for the African proposal.

Franz also ensured that Brussels Airlines, a Lufthansa subsidiary, had his "total support" for a new company in Congo.

A reinforcement in Africa would see Star Alliance challenge rival Sky Team, which is well positioned there now in part owing to networks operated by one of its founding members, Air France.

The arrival of Ethiopian Airlines will give Star Alliance a third hub in Africa, in addition to ones in Cairo and Johannesburg.

Ethiopian Airlines operates a smaller hub in the western African capital of Lome.

Finally, Franz said he would be interested in seeing Polish airline LOT join Star Alliance once it has been privatised.

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