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Students travel to Spain one year after Germanwings crash

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Students at Joseph König school mourning their classmates. Photo: AFP
13:03 CET+01:00
As the one year anniversary of the Germanwings disaster approaches, the German school which lost 16 students is hoping another language exchange can help to heal the wounds.

Joseph König school in the German town of Haltern am See lost 16 students and two teachers when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully crashed the plane into the French Alps 100km north of Nice on March 24th 2015.

The students were on their way home from an exchange with students of the Giola Institute in the town of Llinars del Vallès near Barcelona.

Now, almost a year after the crash which killed all 150 passengers and crew - including 50 Spaniards - students from the school will once again travel to Spain to take part in a Spanish language exchange.

"This resumption of the exchange programme is very welcome," Haltern mayor Bodo Klimpel told The Local on Wednesday.
 
"The school that suffered this tragic crash a year ago is a European school, with a very strong focus on supporting language learning and on exchanges. They also receive Spanish pupils here."

Joseph König’s headmaster, Ulrich Wessel, confirmed to German newspaper Rheinische Post that a group of 23 students would fly to Barcelona next Tuesday.

The group will fly from Cologne Airport instead of Düsseldorf to avoid comparisons with the Germanwings crash.

"This trip will allow all of us to get back to normal," he said.


Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia greeting the Spanish exchange partners of the German students during a memorial mass in Barcelona's Sagrada Familia. Photo: AFP

Two teachers and the headmaster himself will accompany the teenagers on the trip - the first the school has organized to Spain since last year’s tragedy.

Wessel highlighted the importance of maintaining the exchange with the Spanish school, a relationship which "has deepened as a result of the catastrophe".

On March 24th 2015, Germanwings flight 4U9525 set off from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport but never reached its destination of Düsseldorf.

Story continues below…

Co-pilot Lubitz locked himself in the cockpit and crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing everyone on board.

Haltern am See will stage a minute’s silence at 10.41am on March 24th, the moment the plane disappeared from the radar.

Germanwings has organized flights to Marseille for family members of those who died in the crash, who want to travel to the crash site on the first anniversary of the disaster. 

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