EBACE: Lufthansa Private Jet sets sights on US expansion by year-end

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German flag carrier Lufthansa is seeking to offer its top-end Lufthansa Private Jet brand in North America before the end of the year through an agreement with US fractional ownership company NetJets. A similar venture is under way in Europe between LPJ and NetJets' Lisbon-based sister company.

Sabine Dörflinger, Lufthansa director for global premium customer management, said: "The product is growing very fast. US customers already account for between 15% and 20% of our business in Europe - they use Lufthansa's first-class transatlantic service and then connect to a private jet."

LPJ rekindled its venture with NetJets Europe earlier this year after a four-year separation. The original agreement called for NetJets to provide a business jet feeder service for Lufthansa's premium passengers to and from its German hubs. The relationship began to sour when increasing numbers of Lufthansa passengers began using the service for ad hoc flights. This put a strain on NetJets' resources at a time when business was booming.

"The new agreement gives our customers [impromptu] access to the NetJets fleet whenever they need it. It works well for both parties," said Dörflinger.

LPJ has acquired shares in NetJet's light and midsize fleet and has an access agreement to the operator's large and long-range aircraft. The tie-up with NetJets led to the closure of LPJ sister company and operations arm Swiss PrivateAviation and the sale is under way of its four Cessna Citation XLS+ and CJ3 business jets.

LPJ is holding talks with NetJets' US affiliate with a view to providing a similar venture in North America before the NBAA convention in October.

German flag carrier Lufthansa is seeking to offer its top-end Lufthansa Private Jet brand in North America before the end of the year through an agreement with US fractional ownership company NetJets