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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
German plans airline for smokers
Smintair sees frustrated smokers as a business opportunity
A German entrepreneur plans to launch the world's first smokers' airline next year, promising a return to the times before planes became smoke-free zones.

Alexander Schoppmann, a former stockbroker, is seeking the start-up cash for Smintair - Smoker's International Airways.

On its website Smintair promises to "bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s".

The plan is to fly two leased Boeing 747s on the Duesseldorf-Tokyo route.

Old-fashioned luxuries

The airline will not offer economy-class tickets, but will target business people who enjoy smoking - and who are willing to pay for some extra pampering.

Smoking will be allowed in all 138 seats on board - and there will be extra leg room, because jumbo jets normally accommodate more passengers.

"The upper deck will be the passengers' lounge and not be jammed with seats, as you can sadly find everywhere, nowadays," the website says.

"Allergics against tobacco smoke or militant anti-smokers are asked to not apply," Smintair says on its jobs page.

On the website Mr Schoppmann writes nostalgically about the old times when Lufthansa offered its passengers a vast selection of Montecristo cigars.

He says airline smoking bans were prompted by a desire to economise on air conditioning systems. He promises to restore the old-fashioned system of pumping fresh air through the cabin.

Before it can launch, Smintair needs to find at least 40 million euros (27.6m) for an operating licence from the German federal aviation authority.

Mr Schoppmann is optimistic his airline will take off next summer.

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