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"Rising oil prices will eventually lead to higher ticket prices," Spohr said. Image Credit: AP

Amsterdam: Deutsche Lufthansa has about 10 billion euros ($11 billion) more debt because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to CEO Carsten Spohr.

“That’s the price tag,” Spohr said in an interview with newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende. “It was expensive.”

The German carrier hopes that its Swiss airline will pay back its pandemic-related government-backed loans by the end of the year because interest rates on them are high, the CEO said, adding that the unit is not for sale.

Lufthansa expects private trips to recover to pre-pandemic levels next year. The company is already seeing a “catch-up effect,” with bookings to some destinations surging above 2019 levels. The CEO is more skeptical regarding a recovery for business travel, saying it’s too early to quantify if the pandemic will reduce work trips by 5 per cent, 10 per cent or 15 per cent.

Oil shock

Lufthansa and its peers are also wrestling with Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which has triggered an oil shock and forced carriers to cancel or reroute long-haul journeys to avoid shuttered airspace.

While Lufthansa has hedged some two thirds of its kerosene needs for this year, rising oil prices will eventually lead to higher ticket prices, Spohr said.

“If the price of oil goes up $10 a barrel, the ticket price goes up $10 on average,” he said.