Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-biggest airline, plans to invest more than 460 million euros ($629 million) in new Airbus planes and passenger facilities to expand service in Berlin.
Direct flights to the U.S. from Germany’s capital may be added as early as 2013 after the carrier establishes new European routes from the city, Carsten Spohr, head of Lufthansa’s passenger services, said today in Berlin.
“We’re going to expand our presence in a manner that we’ve never done before,” Spohr said at a press conference. “We intend to grow over-proportionally” in Berlin, where air traffic will shift to a new airport in June 2012.
Lufthansa’s expansion includes increasing the number of planes stationed in Berlin to 15 from nine. The Cologne, Germany-based carrier, the country’s largest airline, plans to hire more than 500 people in the Berlin area, including 130 pilots and more than 200 flight attendants. The investment may turn a profit in two years, Spohr said.
The new employees will be paid about 20 percent less than workers at Lufthansa’s hubs in Munich and Frankfurt to make operating costs more competitive, Spohr said, adding that existing staff will be paid under current conditions and won’t be squeezed out by the recruits.
New non-stop destinations from Berlin will include Valencia, Spain; Bologna, Italy; and Birmingham, England, the company said. The additional routes are scheduled to start in June 2012, when Berlin-Brandenburg airport replaces the city’s existing Tegel and Schoenefeld terminals.
To promote the expansion, Lufthansa will offer Berlin-based passengers one-way tickets for European travel starting at 49 euros. The airline will also offer a dedicated website for customers in the region.
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