The improving economy in the West Midlands is seeing more business customers flying from Birmingham Airport.
The Lufthansa group, which operates 113 flights a week out of the airport and almost 6,000 a year, saw a 2.5 per cent like-for-like increase in passenger numbers using Birmingham in 2013.
Christian Schindler, Lufthansa’s UK and Ireland director, said the airport was ahead of the group’s one per cent growth last year which has seen passengers top 76 million.
“The strong increase is good news for us, the airport and the wider economy in the West Midlands. Birmingham is an important part of our network and we are the biggest operator out of the airport,” said Mr Schindler.
About 450,000 passengers a year are being carried from Birmingham, mainly to Frankfurt and Munich, where passengers are guaranteed a connecting time or no more than 35 minutes to their next flight.
Its Germanwings budget operation now operates flights to Hamburg and Berlin and is to take over the Dusseldorf route in September or October.
Mr Schindler said much of the growth in passengers to the hub airports at Frankfurt and Munich had come from business passengers travelling to destinations in eastern and southern Europe and using its long haul service to Beijing in China.
“More than a third of the passengers flying with us from Birmingham are corporate passengers. There is a lot of the automotive industry around Birmingham which is flying with us and we expect more from them going forward,” he added.
He said the numbers of passengers the group was flying from Birmingham had grown every year since the recession and further growth was expected this year driven by the growing UK economy.
Mr Schindler said Lufthansa’s corporate loyalty programme - the largest worldwide - had also been improved to include all flights run by the group which also includes Austrian, Brussels and Swiss airlines. Details are avalable at www.flyppb.co.uk
He said Lufthansa, which flies to more than 270 destinations, was keeping its aircraft fleet numbers stable but was carrying out a major renewal programme including adding five new Boeing 747s - the biggest Boeing aircraft available. New Airbus 320s, which operate on the Birmingham to Frankfurt route, are also being introduced.
While there were no current plans to operate extra aircraft out of Birmingham, he said the group was looking at whether frequency of flights could be stepped up.
The group is also launching a premium economy product at the ITB travel trade fair next month in Berlin which will be available from May on its long haul flights.
Online booking through the website ww.lufthansa.com is continuing to grow and now accounts for more than 40 per cent of all tickets.