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Lufthansa says it achieved record passenger numbers in 2015

[FRANKFURT] German airline Lufthansa said Tuesday it transported a record number of passengers in 2015, despite repeated walkouts by both pilots and cabin staff in long and bitter industrial disputes.

"The airlines of the Lufthansa group transported 107.7 million passengers in 2015, which is a new record," the carrier said in a statement.

The total represented an increase of 1.6 per cent over the number for the previous year.

Lufthansa also owns Austrian Airlines and Swiss, as well as the low-cost operator Germanwings, which suffered a devastating crash in March, when the co-pilot of one of its jets deliberately steered the aircraft into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

Lufthansa said it carried out more than one million flights last year, an increase of 0.2 per cent, and achieved the highest ever seat load factor of 80.4 per cent, which corresponded to an increase in capacity utilisation of 0.3 per centage points compared to 2014.

"The Lufthansa group has invested heavily in the improvement of its offers and services throughout the past few years," it said.

As part of this, 17 new aircraft were taken into service last year. The fleet would be amended by a further 251 jets over the next 10 years.

"Additionally, the comfort of travel has been noticeably enhanced through cabin refurbishment in all classes, improvements in on-board services and the availability of broadband internet connection.

"With these improvements, we were able to markedly increase demand and to convince more customers than ever before to fly with one of our airlines," Lufthansa said.

Both pilots and cabin staff repeatedly walked out last year in separate disputes over pay and early retirement provisions, grounding tens of thousands of passengers.