EBACE: Lufthansa Private Jet mulls global expansion

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German flag carrier and trailblazer Lufthansa is looking to introduce its top-end Lufthansa Private Jet (stand 650) brand to North America and Asia within the next two years as the product goes from strength to strength in Europe.

Speaking at the show - where the company is celebrating its fifth anniversary - Sabine Dörflinger, Lufthansa's director for global premium customer management, said: "Lufthansa's commitment to its premium class customers and premium class service is at the forefront of its strategy. Our [premium] customers have asked us to bring the LPJ product to these new markets - which we serve through long-haul airline operation - and that we are looking at now."

The Private Jets brand was launched in 2005 to provide Lufthansa's first-class passengers with a business jet feeder service throughout Europe to and from its major hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

Today around 30% of LPJ's customers are hub-to-point travellers and the remainder are charter customers using the service for point to point travel.

LPJ traffic has grown year on year since its inception, Dörflinger says. Then the service was provided by fractional ownership operator NetJets Europe on behalf of Lufthansa. When the partnership folded two years later, Lufthansa acquired a fleet of Cessna Citation business jet and today operates seven of the types - three CJ1+, two CJ3s and two XLS+s. Extra capacity is provided by German and Austrian charter operators DC Aviation and Jet Alliance.

Last year was the most successful year according to the company, which operated up to 15 daily flights during peak times. "When everyone was talking about the global financial crisis, LPJ had its strongest bookings ever," says Dörflinger.

Lufthansa is now talking to potential operating partners in North America and Asia and Dörflinger says it will make a decision on whether to expand into these markets "in the coming year".

If given the go-ahead, the service could be available within the proceeding 12 months - although Lufthansa has no plans to acquire new aircraft to service these regions, Dörflinger says.

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