Luxembourg adapts to Icelandair move

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COLUMBIA, Md.--Luxembourg tourism officials said their country is still very much in the European travel mix despite Icelandair's ending its service to the destination.

The airline said declining passenger loads to Luxembourg led it to drop its service there. "It's an unhappy situation, as we had a long history with Icelandair," Anne Bastian, director of the Luxembourg National Tourist Office, said. "They were a pioneer with lower fares into Luxembourg via Iceland, but now the competition is offering the same rates."

"This doesn't mean that Luxembourg is off the map," Bastian added. "We do have our own airline, Luxair, flying into all the capitals of Europe." Americans can connect to Luxair in Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and London, she said. Some 35,000 Americans visited Luxembourg last year, she said.

Icelandair, which will end its Iceland-to-Luxembourg route Jan. 9, plans to increase its flights between the U.S., Paris and Frankfurt via Iceland sometime next year, she said. Known as the "hippie airline" in the 1960s and '70s, Icelandair was the cheapest route from the U.S. to Europe for years, with Luxembourg as the jumping-off point.

Most recently the 61-year-old carrier brought U.S. travelers to Luxembourg seven times a week. It had flown to Luxembourg since 1955, adding other European cities in 1989.

Icelandair flies from five North American airports: Boston; Minneapolis; New York (Kennedy); Orlando, Fla., and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

On Sept. 1, it started its first frequent flyer program with a U.S. carrier, TWA.

In New York, Icelandair operation will be handled by British Airways under the supervision of a five-person Iceland Air staff, beginning Sept. 15.

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