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Zeppelin returns to the skies

The new Zeppelin NT blimp flies over Mainau, Germany  

BERLIN, Germany -- A Zeppelin has taken to the skies again nearly 70 years after the last fatal cross-Atlantic journey by one of the airships.

The Zeppelin will take passengers on regular hour-long cruises across Lake Constance near the Swiss border, the site of the first airship flight a century ago in 1900.

Footage of the Hindenburg Zeppelin catching fire as it approached the landing strip at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937, killing 35 of the 96 on board, has not dimmed the enthusiasm for the mode of transport.

The company Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, which relaunched the modern airship on Wednesday, says it already has 3,500 bookings for this year and 500 for 2002.

The Zeppelin NT can carry up to 19 passengers, with a minimum ticket price of 600 marks ($275).

It will look to make up to six flights per day, five days a week, the Friedrichshafen-based firm said.

Air authorities gave the Zeppelin, named Bodensee, final approval on Tuesday, after it had already been certified for production by Germany's Federal Air Traffic Office.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin launched the first airship over Lake Constance in 1900, but the Zeppelin era ended in 1937 with the Hindenburg fire.

The new 75-metre-long (246-foot-long) Zeppelin NT model is filled with nonflammable helium instead of the dangerous hydrogen that doomed the first generation of airships.

• Lake Constance Homepage/Bodensee Homepage
• Welcome to Zeppelin NT

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