Lufthansa management stresses interest in Iberia

Business Materials 16 February 2008 01:20 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Lufthansa is very interested in the Spanish and Latin American markets, and therefore retains an interest in the Spanish airline Iberia, a high ranking Lufthansa executive said Friday in Buenos Aires.

However, Lufthansa's board member Stefan Lauer noted that the structure of the Iberia ownership has changed since last year, although he said he remained convinced that new shareholders like British Airways and the bank Caja Madrid would acknowledge the need for a strong partner.

In earlier contacts, Lufthansa had considered Iberia too expensive.

Lauer described as unlikely the chances of Lufthansa's opening up new direct routes between Germany and Latin America in the near future. The company prefers cooperation with regional airlines.

However, some 8 per cent of Lufthansa's income comes from its Latin American business, and the company is evaluating the possibility of setting up direct flights between Europe and Bogota, Colombia, and between Europe and Rio de Janeiro.

Lufthansa has reached an agreement with the largest Brazilian airline, TAM Linhas Aereas headquartered in Sao Paulo, whereby passengers of both airlines can acquire miles in either of the two's frequent flier programmes. This policy is in place since Thursday, Lauer noted.

TAM flies from Sao Paulo to many destinations in Latin America and has a modern fleet.

Lauer said talks with the Central American airline Grupo TACA were also progressing well. TACA - created out of five different airlines and based in San Salvador - has a large network of routes, with destinations in 35 countries.