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Lufthansa says 2010 traffic hits 90.2 million

FRANKFURT, Jan 12, 2011 – The leading German airline, Lufthansa, said its business got a big lift last year from recovery in airline travel, reporting that its traffic jumped 17.2 percent to 90.2 million people carried.

That was a result of an upturn in the air transport sector and acquisitions by the airline group, which includes the carriers Swiss, BMI and Austrian Airlines, a statement said.

With respect to Lufthansa operations alone, traffic gained a more modest 5.9 percent to 58.9 million passengers, it added.

The group consolidated results from BMI and Austrian airlines in mid 2009 so last year was the first full 12-month period to reflect their contributions.

Lufthansa also had to deal with several negative events in 2010, from the paralysis of European flights in April owing to the Icelandic volcano eruption to massive cancellations in December because of inclement weather.

Lufthansa had to cancel more than 4,500 flights last month as snow and ice hampered operations at European airports, including its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, leading to the loss of 65 million euros ($84 million), it said.

But while European traffic declined by 0.5 percent on a 12-month basis in December, it gained 3.7 percent elsewhere, giving the German carrier a slight overall increase of 0.2 percent to 6.47 million passengers.

Its freight operations carried 1.8 million tonnes of merchandise and mail last year, an increase of 18.2 percent from 2009.

Lufthansa has forecast an operating profit of more than 800 million euros for 2010, and says it will do better this year.

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It has announced the creation of 4,000 jobs even as it pursues a programme to cut costs.

Shares in the airline gained 0.81 percent to 17.32 euros in early afternoon trading, while the DAX index of German blue-chips was 1.48 percent higher overall.

On Tuesday, Lufthansa\’s biggest German rival Air Berlin said it had carried 33.6 million passengers in 2010, an annualised gain of 3.8 percent and a new record for the carrier.

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