Fraport CEO Says Business Downturn Easing

Fraport has seen business at its main airport in Frankfurt recover further in April, unfettered by an outbreak of swine flu that has sparked global fears of a pandemic, its CEO said Monday.

"Nervousness among passengers is marginal," Wilhelm Bender said.

He said passenger numbers in Frankfurt continued to decline in April, but at a slower rate than in the previous month. In March Frankfurt airport had handled 9.2 percent fewer passengers there than in the year-earlier period. Fraport is due to release traffic figures for April on May 13.

The World Health Organization last week raised its alert level twice, from 3 to 5 on a six-point scale, in response to the sustained transmission of a deadly new strain of flu in Mexico and the United States.

Major US airlines including Delta, US Airways, Continental and United have said they were cutting services to Mexico, citing lower demand for flights to the country hard hit by the flu outbreak.

Europe has been hit less severely. Lufthansa said it was still seeing good demand for flights to Mexico City.

Rival Air France-KLM said it sees swine flu as a short-lived issue for passengers.

Weak demand from business travelers was a bigger problem, with Air France's German operations head Warner Rootliep saying on Monday volumes were down 10-40 percent for routes from Germany.

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