Alitalia boosts Air France-KLM-Delta hand on trans-Atlantic

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Alitalia joined an alliance by Delta Air Lines of the United States and Air France-KLM on Monday, with the three partners saying they now accounted for about a quarter of trans-Atlantic capacity.

The joint venture is geared towards sharing costs and revenues on trans-Atlantic flights.

"Look forward to more flights... more destinations, and a profitable and successful joint venture and a profitable and successful Alitalia," Delta chief executive Richard Anderson said at a joint press conference.

With Alitalia's 20 transatlantic flights, the joint venture will now run about 250 flights per day, or 55,000 seats to about 500 destinations.

This would be equivalent to "approximately 26 percent of total trans-Atlantic capacity, with annual revenues estimated at more than 10 billion dollars (8.0 billion euros)," the companies said in a joint statement.

Air France-KLM acquired 25 percent of troubled Alitalia after it was taken over by a group of prominent Italian entrepreneurs.

Air France and Delta launched the venture in 2008, bringing in KLM in 2009.

The development of the venture was in line with the "natural orientation of the sector, that is going towards consolidation," said Rocco Sabelli, Alitalia's chief executive.

"Italy is a key market, the third market for flows between Europe and North America," Air France-Klm chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said.

© 2010 AFP

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