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Slow start for Lufthansa on new U.S. route after Air Berlin collapse

Reuters  |  BERLIN 

(Reuters) - Lufthansa's first flight from to the United States in over 16 years took off on Wednesday, although a slow start to sales shows the difficulties involved in trying to replace the gaps left by insolvent rival Air

Germany's second largest carrier Air document.write("");

DE> filed for insolvency in August and carried out its last flight at the end of last month, leaving a gap in the market for long-haul flights from the German capital in particular.

"Of course bookings are slow at this stage," board member Harry Hohmeister told at Berlin's Tegel airport ahead of the departure of the flight to New York's JFK on Wednesday.

He said that usually would give 12 months notice of a new long-haul route, or eight months at a minimum, but in this case it had only six weeks to sell tickets ahead of the first flight.

"The next four weeks will be difficult, then we get a peak at Christmas time and then it will develop better, otherwise we wouldn't do it," Hohmeister said.

has traditionally shied away from long-haul flights from Berlin, instead flying intercontinental routes from its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

Hohmeister said the group was currently looking at other long-haul options from Berlin, but that any would likely be flown by its budget arm Eurowings.

is currently awaiting EU approval for a deal to take over large parts of Air Berlin, which will see it adding 81 planes to the group.

The collapse of Air means Airports will see a dip in passenger number growth this year after a period of strong demand.

Britain's easyJet , which is planning to take over some Air operations at Tegel, has said it expects to run a reduced schedule this winter from the airport.

"We expect that new partners will quickly bring growth," Airports CEO Engelbert Luetke Dalderup said, urging to "never say never" to the idea of as a hub.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Alison Williams)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 09 2017. 06:50 IST