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Wed 13 Jan 2010 05:48 PM

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Lufthansa eyes Iraq as Mideast passengers rise

Germany's largest airline says region is one of only two growth areas globally for 2009.

Lufthansa eyes Iraq as Mideast passengers rise

Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, saw its passenger number rise in the Middle East last year and is planning to expand further into the region, starting with the new routes to Iraq, the airline has said.

Lufthansa flew 55.6m passengers in total last year, a drop of 2.6 percent. Figures declined in all global markets, except the Middle East and Africa, the company’s yearly report said.

Last month, Lufthansa carried 363,000 passengers in the Middle East and Africa. Sales during the month rose 9.1 percent and the load factor increased to 75.1 percent.

The increased performance came as the airline announced that it was to look at the possibility of starting new routes to Iraq.

The German carrier plans to fly to Baghdad and Erbil, in Northern Iraq, from Frankfurt and Munich and is aiming to start servicing the routes this summer.

Lufthansa began flights to Baghdad in 1956 but discontinued the routes in 1990 at the start of the Gulf War.

“With the resumption of flights to Iraq, Lufthansa is pursuing its policy of expanding its route network in the Middle East, which it presently serves with 88 flights per week to 14 destinations in eleven countries,” the carrier said in a statement.

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