It is precisely in times of crisis that Lufthansa has to impress with the quality and commitment of its staff. That is why we attach great importance to excellent vocational and professional training. In 2008 Lufthansa took on 330 new vocational trainees. A clear trend towards higher qualifications can be seen. The number of apprentices who complete a classic sandwich course in the Company and at a vocational training school is steadily declining. In contrast, the number of new recruits who combine their Company training with university studies continues to grow. A steady supply of new cockpit staff was also a priority. In our own pilot schools we trained 262 new recruits last year.
The range of professional training courses available also continued to grow. We pay special attention to perfect service on board. This is the purpose of the additional training programme to become a qualified First Class flight assistant. In February 2009, a total of 2,079 employees had this professional qualification, which further increases the quality of the First Class product. Cabin crew can also choose from 20 different courses for expanding their level of First Class knowledge.
After a building time of around two years we will be opening the Lufthansa Training & Conference Center Seeheim, with a broader concept and modern architecture, in early 2009. This means that we will once again have a fixed location to enable concentrated learning, meetings, networking and exchange of ideas for our staff. The Seeheim location in the Bergstrasse-Odenwald nature park has been a symbol for this in the Lufthansa Group for many years. In 2006, we decided not just to modernise the old training centre after more than 30 years, but to invest some EUR 100m in a modern education centre designed according to the latest standards. The Lufthansa Training & Conference Center Seeheim is a training site, a conference centre and a hotel. It has over 483 rooms in different categories and around 80 function rooms in various sizes equipped with modern media technology. The programmes of the Lufthansa School of Business – founded in 1998 as the first corporate university in Germany and the central institution for all Group-wide training and dialogue platforms for managers and staff – will again be at home in Seeheim. In the second quarter of 2009 a new area, the Lufthansa Brand Academy, will be opened in a separate section of the Training & Conference Center. The participants there will experience the Lufthansa brand with all their senses and become brand ambassadors. The main target groups for the Brand Academy are managers and service staff on board and ground.