Air France offers Czechs aboard KLM merger

18th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) - Air France is to propose to Czech airline CSA that it join the group formed by Air France's merger with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the French carrier's head of international affairs Dominique Patry said Wednesday.

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) - Air France is to propose to Czech airline CSA that it join the group formed by Air France's merger with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the French carrier's head of international affairs Dominique Patry said Wednesday.

"We told ... CSA that we intended to propose that they join the combination when they like," Patry said at a seminar hosted by the French civil aviation authority.

"There is not necessarily any rush to bring them in for the moment... (but) at some point, I believe it will happen."

Air France is set to launch its public offer for KLM on March 22, a transaction that would create the world's largest airline by sales.

The takeover will also result in Air France being privatised, a path it has been taking since being rescued controversially in 1994.

"Starting from the month of May, to be more precise on June 1 at the latest, we plan on having a joint Air France-KLM strategy.

"In a second stage, ... we hope to see (Italian flag carrier) Alitalia join the combination," he added.

Asked on the sidelines of the seminar for more details of the proposal to CSA, Patry said: "We told them that what we're doing with KLM and Alitalia could be envisaged wth CSA".

However, a deal would first require the privatisation of the Czech airline, he said.

Under Air France's takeover of KLM, a holding firm is being created to control the two companies.

Patry said the arrangement could be enlarged to include three or four carriers eventually.

Alitalia, which is in serious difficulties over restructuring, said on September 30 that it would take part in the Air-France-KLM alliance in some way.

Alitalia has a privileged partnership with Air France and had feared being isolated, partly because Air France is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance and KLM is joining.

In addition to Air France and Alitalia, Skyteam, which was created in June 2000, currently groups AeroMexico, CSA, Delta Airlines of the United States, and Korean Air.

Patry said the Skyteam alliance could serve as "a vehicle for European consolidation".

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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