Lufthansa trims European schedules but expands long-haul

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Lufthansa's new winter timetable features a 7.4% reduction in flights compared to last year as the German flag-carrier copes with the continued downturn in passenger numbers.

Announcing the new schedule, which begins on 25 October, Lufthansa says reductions will mainly take place in its domestic and European sectors. Long-haul routes will actually see a marginal increase.

This winter, the company will offer connections to 191 destinations in 78 countries (compared with 194 destinations in 79 countries in winter 2008/09). Weekly domestic and European flights drop from 12,278 last winter to 11,282 this year. Long-haul services rise to 1,146 weekly compared to 1,124 in winter 2008/09.

Through gradual withdrawal of smaller regional aircraft and deployment of larger types, available seat capacity will remain stable. Fleet restructuring means that capacity - measured in available seat kilometres - will increase by 1.1 per cent, principally through the use of new aircraft for intercontinental traffic.

"Our passengers are staying loyal to us because we are maintaining existing connections and not radically revising our route network. We are optimising the network so as to retain connection quality, wherever possible, for our customers," explains Lufthansa board member Karl Ulrich Garnadt.

"We are keeping a presence in all traffic regions and cancelling flight connections only when alternatives are available to our passengers. At the same time, we are opening up new markets in West Africa, for example, so as to harness new growth opportunities."

For example, flights to Brussels by Lufthansa and its subsidiary Brussels Airlines between Germany and Belgium will be rearranged and harmonised. Lufthansa will take over the connections to the Belgian capital from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs. Brussels Airlines will, in return, connect Brussels with Hamburg and Berlin.

Lufthansa is increasing services to West and Central Africa under the new timetable, including daily flights to the Nigerian capital Abuja. Those flights will continue thrice-weekly to Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) and four times weekly to Nigeria's Port Harcourt. In July 2010, Lufthansa begins a new connection to Libreville, Gabon. Compared with last year, Lufthansa is doubling its services to West and Central Africa's oil-producing countries from 11 to 21 flights weekly.

Since 1 October, Lufthansa customers have been able to book code-share connections with US carrier JetBlue. The US company will operate flights under Lufthansa flight numbers from 11 November with connections ex New York or Boston to 12 US destinations and Puerto Rico.

Additionally, seasonal services Hamburg-Innsbruck ( Austria ), Frankfurt-Cape Town (South Africa ) and Dusseldorf-Miami (USA) will be resumed.

In the past few months, Lufthansa has for economic reasons discontinued flights to Yerevan (Armenia), Bristol (UK), Ufa ( Russia) and Portland/Oregon (USA).