HISTORY: Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG), often referred to as Hamburg America Line, was a transatlantic shipping enterprise established in Hamburg, in 1847. Among those involved in its development were prominent citizens such as Albert Ballin (Director General), Adolph Godeffroy, Ferdinand Laeisz, Carl Woermann, August Bolten and others, and its main financial backers were Berenberg Bank and H. J. Merck & Co. It soon developed into the largest German, and at times the world's largest, shipping company, serving the market created by the German immigration to the United States and later immigration from Eastern Europe. On 1 September 1970, after 123 years of independent existence, HAPAG merged with the Bremen-based North German Lloyd to form Hapag-Lloyd AG. Before World War I, Albert Ballin, had recognised the opportunities created by aviation and, at an early stage, made initial contact with the air travel pioneer Graf Zeppelin, in the southern German town of Friedrichshafen. As a result, Hapag received the entire advertising for the airships as well as for the handling of the passengers. In 1929, the Hapag received the exclusive right of the zeppelin operator “Deutsche Luftschiffahrts AG” for ticket sales in Germany and abroad. Even the groundbreaking world tour of the "Graf Zeppelin" in 1929 was prepared by the Hamburg-America line. During its 33,600-kilometer-long flight, the airship flew the Hapag flag also, next to the German trade flag. A zeppelin trip was the fastest and also a very comfortable way to cross the Atlantic at the time. On average, it took only 59 hours from Europe to the United States’ East Coast – about half the time the fastest ocean liner needed between the two continents.
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