updated 10/9/2009 7:30:27 PM ET 2009-10-09T23:30:27

German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG said Friday it would reduce the number of its winter flights by 7.4 percent through the phase out of smaller aircraft.

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The Cologne-based company said the cutbacks would come mainly from European and domestic routes that use smaller aircraft, which will be replaced by larger aircraft. Therefore, the available seat capacity will remain stable in the winter schedule.

The company, which is Europe's largest airline by sales, said it will fly to 191 destinations in 78 countries compared with 194 destinations in 79 countries in 2008. Lufthansa didn't specify what country it was exiting, but said in the past several months it discontinued flights to Yerevan, Armenia; Bristol, England; Ufa, Russia and Portland, Oregon for economic reasons. The new schedule takes effect Oct. 25.

The company said in contrast to the new cutbacks announced for Europe, it was making a slight increase in some long-haul flights — including those to the U.S.

"We are maintaining existing connections and not radically revising our route network," the company said in a statement.

"We are optimizing the network so as to retain connection quality wherever possible for our customers. We are keeping a presence in all traffic regions and canceling flight connections only when alternatives are available to our passengers."

Earlier, Lufthansa said the group's September passenger levels jumped 25 percent with the inclusion of traffic from Austrian Airlines and British Midland in which it recently acquired majority stakes, but said its fundamental business remained challenged in the global downturn.

Lufthansa also owns or holds stakes in airlines including Swiss International Airlines, Brussels Airlines and JetBlue of the U.S.

Lufthansa shares closed unchanged at euro11.80 ($17.34) in Frankfurt trading.


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