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Lufthansa CEO sees business travel recovering faster than thought

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Business air travel is recovering faster than expected and should remain solid through the winter, the chief executive of Germany's Lufthansa said in remarks published on Monday.

Meanwhile private travel is seeing an "extension of the summer season" as people catch up on flights they were not able to take immediately after the onset of the pandemic, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung.

"In addition, we are seeing a positive trend in business travel, which was still at a low level in the third quarter and is now picking up strongly," Spohr said in an interview.

Global air travel was brought to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Lufthansa into a multi-billion dollar bailout by the German government.

Lufthansa expects the level of business travel in the medium term to be around 90% or more of what it was before COVID-19.

"There will ... be no sudden drop in demand in winter this year," he said of the outlook for business travel as demand tends to fade less in that segment in winter and the "good development" in bookings is expected to last until December.

"Business travel has returned faster and more strongly than expected," Spohr said, adding that it was being felt in particular in the German, Swiss, Austrian, Belgian and northern Italian markets, where more flights have been added.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Additional reporting by Riham Alkousaa in Berlin and Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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